When choosing summer red wine think drinkability and refreshment – younger, lighter-bodied young wines with lower tannins and higher acidity. The distinguishing factor that makes them a summer red wine is that they should be served chilled despite the rule that red wines shouldn’t be chilled.
1. Rosé – To many, the mention of a rosé brings to mind cheap wine, perhaps packaged in a box. Yet, there are a variety of modern rosés that are not of the overly sweet variety that you may associate with pink wines such as White Zinfandel. In sharp contrast to these sweet pink wines, there are very refreshing, dry rosés on the market that are the perfect complement to a summer barbecue. With the aroma of a red wine, and the advantage of being served well chilled like a white wine, they are one of the best of the summer red wine. If you haven’t tried a rosé lately, look for a dry rosé with a deep pink hue and you may be surprised.
Recommendation: Turkey Flat Rosé (Australia) $18-$20
2. Rioja from Spain is a great light red to enjoy in the hot summer months. Primarily made of the Tempranillo grape with a few other grapes in the mix, Rioja is classified by age into four categories: Joven, Crianza, Reserva, and Gran Reserva. Joven is the youngest, generally not aged in oak, while Reserva and Gran Reserva are aged in oak the longest. Pick a Joven no more than two to three years old for an exuberant, light, refreshing fruity Rioja that you can drink chilled or mix up to make sangrias. Crianza, which is aged in oak for at least one year is another best summer red wine choice.
Recommendation: Rioja Vega Joven 2007 (Spain), $8-$10
3. Beaujolais is another young red wine that is best served chilled. Made in the Beaujolais region of France of the Gamay grape, Beaujolais is a light bodied red with high acidity and few tannins. Make sure not to buy a Beaujolais Noveau in the summer, because it is released in late fall and meant to be drunk by January.
Recommendation: Duboeuf Beaujolais Village (France) $8-$10
4. Syrah/Shiraz – The Syrahs of the Northern Côtes Du Rhône region in France with their fruity yet peppery and smoky flavors make Syrah a robust complement to a thick juicy grilled steak, hamburgers, and meats cooked in a smoker. However, many Syrahs from California are great on this front as well.
Recommendation: Morgan Cote du Crows 2007 (California) $18-$20
5. Malbec – When you think of meat, one country comes to mind as the epitome of grilled meats: Argentina. And the quintessential Argentinean grape is the Malbec. Medium to full-bodied, Malbec is a big robust red for big meat eaters. Look for a younger Malbec to find the best summer red wine for a barbecue.
Recommendation: Bodega Norton Malbec (Argentina) $8-$10