Should you chill red wine, and which are the best bottles to serve cold? 

Red wine in glasses 
Summer in a glass: soft, fresh and tangy styles lend themselves well to chilling  Credit: Getty Images

The weather is supposed to pick up in the week ahead, thank goodness, and with that comes one of summer’s most commonly asked wine questions: should you chill red wine? The answer, of course, is only if you want to.

Cool reds aren’t for everyone. But for those who are in favour, chilling reds works much better with a soft, fresh and tangy style than it does for a savoury, tough and tannic one. Big, heavy reds, and especially overtly oaky wines, taste more chewy and austere for being cold.

But young, lively ones, bursting with red berry fruit, are enhanced, emerging more succulent and refreshing after a short spell in the fridge.

Note that “short spell”. I never drink red quite as cold as sparkling, light white or rosé. Aim for about 10-13C for reds – half an hour in the fridge should do it, depending on how forceful your fridge is, of course.

And if you’re in a restaurant or wine bar and the red seems too warm, ask for it to be put in an ice bucket for a few minutes (if the staff have any wine wit about them, they’ll understand).

Best of all the candidates for a light chill are young and strawberryish gamays, so beaujolais and beaujolais-villages, smooth pinot noirs and simple but appealing, cherry-ripe Italian reds.

And served cool they’ll taste even better with cold food – charcuterie, cold cuts of pork or chicken, patés, cheeses, pulse-based salads. This is often picnic food, of course, so pack your red with it in the cool bag when you set off.

These chilly softies even work with richer fish – sip them with cold poached salmon and salad to see exactly what I mean.

Try these...

Chill out with these three cool reds

Finest Marlborough Pinot Noir 2018 
New Zealand
(13%, Tesco, £9 down to £8 until 17 June)

Victoria plums, black cherries and redcurrants mingle here in a smooth, easy-going pinot that has been aged in oak, though the tannins are soft, ripe and integrated enough to merit a light chill. Especially good with salmon.

M&S Coteaux Bourguignons 2018 Burgundy, France

(13%, M&S, £8.50 per bottle)

100% gamay from last year’s warm summer, ripe and aromatic with a juicy cherry flavour and, when chilled, a note of blackcurrant sorbet too. The Coteaux appellation takes in the ‘greater’ Burgundy area, including down into Beaujolais.

Recchia Bardolino 2018 Veneto, Italy

(12.5%, Waitrose, £7.99 down to £5.99 until 9 July)

Elderberries and redcurrants here in a fresh, pippy red made from a blend of local grape varieties. One for a light tomato-based pasta sauce; on offer it’s a steal.