Sorry to break it to you Australia, but you’re probably doing red wine wrong. All wrong, in fact.
That’s right: DMARGE recently spoke to sommelier Sean McManus, who is a representative at Real Wines, to better understand why Australians don’t cool red wine so often as is done in countries like Spain.
“As for chilled reds, I imagine you saw a lot of this in Spain due to Grenache being a grape that loves being chilled,” Sean told DMARGE.
“Grenache is a grape that is relatively low in tannin making it smashable when chilled.”
Sean then explained that because Australia is a land of punchy reds – which aren’t really suitable for chilling – we aren’t used to putting red wine in the fridge. We even see it as a bit of a faux pas. But in summer that’s not necessarily the case.
In fact, because of our hot summer temperatures, putting your wine in the fridge the day you drink it (or when you arrive at your host’s house) could be the difference between keeping it at the right temperature and the wrong one.
Sean also told us some red wines lend themselves to being chilled regardless of the weather.
“Australia is known for big tannic reds – Barross Shiraz, Coonawarra Cab, etc. If it has tannin, it is no bueno for being chilled!”
However, Sean adds, “You can find great examples in Southern Rhône (France) of red wines that go well cool. Look towards a region called Tavel. Technically a Rosé but that a more like a light red. Pinot is also great with a little chill.”
“In Australia, look for lightweight grenache from producers out of the Barossa such as Alkina ‘KIN’ Grenache. Biodynamic, wild fermented. It’s the perfect combo of juicy and elegant.”
Mount Ophir Estate winemaker Nick Brown told DMARGE a lot of people are “over the big, juicy, soupy, overripe styles” of wine anyway, and “want to have a few glasses and not fall asleep at the table.”
He said that Australians “are seeking softer, medium wines, particularly red wines,” and industry is now “leaning towards a lighter euro style of winemaking,” in part because a lot of winemakers, due to COVID-19 (as well as technology improving), are now a lot more au fait with technology and can interact with customers online, and are listening to them more than they used to in the past.
Video: TikTok User @legallywined reveals which red wines can be put in the fridge.
Even when it comes to big, heavy reds like Shiraz, which experts agree are supposed to be served at room temperature, in the height of Aussie summer you might even be able to get away with putting them in the fridge, because your room temperature may be quite high.
“They say red wine should be served at room temperature, but that means at room temperature in a dungeon, wine cellar or a cave in France,” Gwyn Olsen, head winemaker at Pepper Tree Wines once told SBS.
Olsen told SBS that most room temperatures in the Australian summer are significantly above the ‘room temperature’ instruction for red-wine storage and consumption from Europe.
“Take, for example, the Hunter Valley (NSW), where you can have a summer day of around 40-odd degrees. If you are drinking that wine at room temperature, you are drinking wine at 40°C. Now that’s not enjoyable by any stretch of the imagination.”
This could even rob your precious big red of some of its flavour (not to mention being quite unrefreshing).
There you have it. Yet another excuse for you to avoid white wine and stick to reds this Christmas and New Year… Just make sure you keep them cool.