Basics: A Guide to Chillable Red Wine | Wine Enthusiast
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A Guide to Chillable Red Wine

Perk up your palate and take some risks by adding a chill to red wines. While Gamay and Pinot Noir are well-known contenders, the varieties listed here are also ripe for the refrigerator. Whatever you select, serve it at 50–60˚F.


Widely planted throughout Southern France, this grape’s thin skin produces delicate tannins well-suited for chilling. It is also known for its flowery aroma and fleshy flavors like strawberry and red cherries, which get racy when chilled.

These juicy flavors and the acidity of a chilled Cinsault work well with mildly spicy Thai coconut curry. It’s also a perfect match for white-flesh fish, because it won’t overpower delicate flavors.


This Sicilian grape carries moderate acidity that feels like zipping around on a scooter. It has a fresh bouquet of wildflowers on the nose. Meanwhile, its strawberry and pomegranate flavors are made more complex by spicy white pepper and clove, which are especially piquant when the wine is cold.

Keep it simple when choosing a food pairing. Chilled Frappato is a gem alongside a platter of marinated olives, goat cheese and roasted red peppers.

Wine that needs to be chilled
Photo by Sara Littlejohn


Don’t be fooled by its dark, luscious hue, the key here is moderate acidity to balance the wine’s full, rich and plummy notes. Flavors like blueberry, plum, black cherry and tobacco leaf maintain their expressiveness at cooler temperatures, which gives it a charming sophistication.

The bold quality of a chilled Bonarda will stand up to such flavorful dishes as teriyaki made with tofu or chicken.


This garnet- and violet-hued Austrian wine is known for flavors like chocolate, licorice, sour cherry and pomegranate, with restrained tannins. It’s the latter that make it a good candidate for time in the refrigerator, which highlights the distinct fruit-forward notes.

Be bold and pair a cold Zweigelt with anything doused in barbecue sauce. Its acidity will help tame the condiment’s sweetness. Mushroom risotto is a good match for some of the earthier tones.


The best bottles for chilling also happen to be the most affordable—skip the Ripasso and the Amarone in favor of a Valpolicella or a Valpolicella Classico. These will be the youngest, freshest and fruitiest of the bunch, with the lowest alcohol content, all attributes that make it especially lively at a lower temp. Snappy, chilled Valpolicella is the best bet for a juicy cheeseburger or caramelized roasted vegetables.

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