Summer is upon us, and it’s time to uncork some of the top red wines for warm weather tasting. Some people may refrain from drinking red wine during the summer due to its association with heavy and warming flavors, but there are many light and refreshing options available that can be enjoyed during the warmer months.
Below are the best red wine types for those looking to add a bit of sophistication to their summer days. These incredibly versatile wines pair well with a wide range of summer foods, making them the perfect addition to any outdoor gathering or barbecue.
Pinot Noir is an excellent red wine for summer due to its light and vibrant characteristics. It is a medium-bodied wine with lower tannins and high acidity, making it perfect for sipping on a warm summer day. The wine has a fruity flavor profile with notes of cherry, raspberry, and cranberry, offering a delicious match to a variety of summer foods.
When pairing Pinot Noir with summer foods, there are several excellent options. Grilled fish, such as salmon or tuna, works well with the light and fruit-forward flavors of the wine. Grilled vegetables like zucchini and eggplant complement the earthy undertones of the wine. Pinot Noir can also be commonly found alongside leaner meats like chicken and pork.
WTSO Wine Recommendation: Lockwood Central Coast Pinot Noir 2018
Gamay is a delicious red wine that makes for a perfect summer sip with its light-bodied nature. Compared to Pinot Noir, Gamay is less tannic and has a brighter acidity, making it even easier to drink in the heat. Gamay can be served slightly chilled, enhancing the wine’s lively quality in a most refreshing way.
Its bright acidity pairs well with various dishes, from grilled fish to roasted vegetables. Gamay is particularly well-suited to lighter fare, such as salads, charcuterie boards, and fruit-based desserts. Its bold raspberry and ripe peach notes also make it a good match for spicy foods, as the wine’s subtle sweetness helps balance out the heat. Overall, Gamay is a top red wine type to be enjoyed nicely with foods throughout the summer season.
WTSO Wine Recommendation: 93 Pt. Jean-Pierre Large Morgon ‘Les Délys’ Beaujolais 2021
Unlike other Italian red wine types, Chianti has softer tannins, making it a top red wine to drink in warmer weather. Its fruity aroma and dry finish make it a versatile wine that pairs well with a variety of summer foods.
There are many great options for pairing Chianti with summer foods, like grilled meats such as burgers, steak, and chicken. The bold flavors of the meat complement the wine’s red fruit taste.
With the saying “What grows together, goes together,” an obvious choice for Chianti are any rustic plates from the Tuscan region such as pasta and tomato-based dishes. For a lighter option, try Chianti with panzanella salad or a simple Italian cheese platter. The wine’s acidity and dry finish make it an excellent choice to cut through the richness of these dishes.
WTSO Wine Recommendation: 93 Pt. Chianti Classico Riserva 2019 Castelli del Grevepesa ‘Castelgreve’
If you’re looking for one of the best red wine types to drink in the summer, Zinfandel offers flavors such as blackberry, raspberry, and cherry to pair with lighter summer meals. This summer, try Zinfandel with classically grilled meats such as burgers, chicken, and sausages. It also goes especially well with barbecue ribs! Bring out the jammy fruit notes by drinking Zinfandel alongside summer salads with strawberries or raspberries on top or in a vinaigrette.
For dessert, Zinfandel plays well with chocolate and berry-based desserts such as a decadent Black Forest cake or ripe blueberry cobbler. Zinfandel’s diversity in pairing makes it a great choice to elevate any summer meal.
WTSO Wine Recommendation: Artezin Zinfandel Collins Vineyard 2017
Cabernet Franc is a fantastic choice for red wine enthusiasts who want something with some complexity during summer. With a lighter body and brighter acidity than some of its bolder counterparts, Cabernet Franc is a fine choice to sip on a warm day. Its fruit notes of strawberry and cherry are balanced by hints of herbs and spices, making it a compelling wine that pairs well with a variety of foods.
Among summertime fare, Cabernet Franc works especially well with its acidity cutting through the richness of grilled meats like burgers and sausages. On another hand, its herbal notes can complement the flavors of fresh herbs used in salads and vegetable dishes. For seafood, try preparing it grilled or roasted with tomatoes or bell peppers for a nice pairing. Cabernet Franc is a great choice for anyone looking for a red wine that’s both satisfying and food-friendly during the summer.
WTSO Wine Recommendation: 92 Pt. Loire Valley Chinon 2019 Cabernet Franc Alain Lorieux ‘Expression’
Grenache is one of the best red wines to drink in the summer because it is light-bodied, fruit-forward, and has a lower tannin content than other red wine types. Its versatility means it can be enjoyed slightly chilled or at room temperature. Grenache is also known for its notes of strawberry, black cherry, and spice, which pair well with a range of summer foods.
Several provisions complement its dynamic flavor profile. Grilled meats, such as chicken or pork, are a great choice, as the wine’s acidity can cut through the meat’s richness. Grenache also pairs well with grilled vegetables and fresh summer salads with in-season fruits like strawberries or peaches. Seafood dishes, such as grilled shrimp or scallops, are another excellent option, and they can bring out the wine’s subtle mineral notes. Overall, Grenache is a noteworthy wine for your next warm-weather gathering.
WTSO Wine Recommendation: Kay Brothers Basket Pressed Grenache 2020 McLaren Vale Australia
Syrah is a great red wine to drink in the summer due to its higher acidity, making it a light option for warm weather. It also has a wide range of flavors that can complement many summer dishes. Syrah has notes of dark fruit, spices, and even floral aromas, giving it a range of pairings with summer foods.
It’s best to opt for dishes with robust flavors that stand up to the Syrah wine’s complexity. Grilled meats like steak, lamb, or pork pair well due to the wine’s earthy and spicy notes. Syrah can also be paired with grilled vegetables, such as bell peppers or portobello mushrooms. For cheese pairings, Syrah pairs well with sharp and aged cheeses, such as cheddar or gouda.
WTSO Wine Recommendation: Tyrus Evan Seven Hills Vineyard Syrah 2017 Walla Walla Valley
Tempranillo is a great red wine to drink in the summer due to some adaptability due to its light to medium-bodied nature. Known for notes of cherry, plum, and tomato, you can also find hints of vanilla, tobacco, and spice. Tempranillo pairs well with summer recipes, including grilled meats, burgers, and pizza. Its acidity and tannins cut through the richness of these dishes, while its fruitiness complements their flavors. Tempranillo can also be served chilled, making it a perfect refreshing drink for hot summer days.
WTSO Wine Recommendation: 93 Pt. Ribera del Duero Reserva 2016 Bodegas Briego ‘Adalid’