If red wine conjures up cosy images of sitting by the pub fire after a long autumnal walk and tucking into a hearty meal, it’s time to think again. Lighter style reds that make great partners to a hot summer’s day are also a great introduction for those consumers just getting into red wine. There are loads of light red wine varieties out there to try so we asked the team to pick their favourites.
Light reds explained
When we talk about ‘light’ red wines we are talking about their texture, how they feel in the mouth, not flavour. Light red wines tend to have lower tannins and generally have aromas of red berries and flowers, as well as hints of spiceBy Zoe Coombs (alumni)
Selected by Lead Buying and Technical Co-ordinator – Wine, Judith Newton
The Dolcetto grape is indigenous to Piemonte and translates as “little sweet one”. Unlike many of the red wines in Piemonte it is often unoaked, light and meant to be drunk young. Lovely notes of cherry and spices on the palate, light and soft in the mouth and a slight hint of almond on the finish. With light tannins, this is a great wine to drink with antipasti or slightly spicy foods.
Selected by Holly Ninnes (alumni)
This wine which is typically light in colour due to the grape’s pinkish coloured skin, has the potential to blow your mind. Or, at the very least, introduce you to a completely ‘new’ grape variety. It looks light but it packs a delicious punch with racy acidity, complex aromatics and quite pronounced tannins. The nose is lovely, almost exotic with charming floral notes, a subtle whiff of Turkish delight and ripe summer fruits.
These grapes are grown at a staggering altitude of 2,600 M above sea level on a vineyard planted in 1898! Key to the Vallisto Criolla is the choice to use no oak at all and focus fundamentally on varietal and Terroir.
Selected by Wine Buyer, Richard Masterson
Paco Y Lola Mencia is a great summer red because it has gentle tannins, lots of really bright red cherry fruit, a hint of balsamic and a mineral finish. Try it chilled!
Chilling red wine? Oh yes.
Drinking red wines slightly chilled can be a great alternative to whites and rosés during the summer months. We recommend putting the bottle in the fridge for half an hour before serving or place in an ice bucket filled with ice and water for around 10-15 minutes. Chilling emphasises tannin and oak so the fruiter style of lighter reds make them the perfect to chill and chill out with.
Everyone knows Pinot Noir, it is the benchmark light red wine – aromatic, high acidity and lower in tannin. Offering it by the glass at 13 degrees C is a sure way to refresh and please the summer crowds. We suggest:
Another crowd pleaser is Tempranillo. Originally from the Rioja region in Spain, this variety can now be found all over the world. The word ‘Tempranillo’ comes from the Spanish word for ‘early’ which references the fact that the grapes ripen several weeks earlier than most Spanish red grapes. Similar to Cabernet Sauvignon in flavour – it has the flavour of a full boded wine but with a fresh mouth feel. We recommend serving it between 14 and 16 degrees C.
Red ruby colour with medium intensity, red and black fruit, dairy and vanilla on the nose, in the mouth has soft tannins and good acidity, fruity and slightly spiced, hints of new oak barrel and a lingering finish.
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