Every summer is the same. As the heat becomes oppressive, wine drinkers become obsessive about rosés and lean towards pinot gris. This fair weather fandom isn't unfounded—it's fucking hot, and you want to drink something that is going to cool you down. I get it. What I don't get is why people give red wine the cold shoulder from June to October.
At some point, you got it in your head that only white wines are served chilled and only red wines are served at room temp. It's not a bad rule in general, but it's not the end all be all. Serving a white wine at room temperature is actually a great way to test its quality and bring out subtle aromas and flavors. And contrary to popular belief, red wine is not just for watching Netflix alone in your favorite oversized sweater. It is actually acceptable to throw your red wine in an ice bucket, your refrigerator, or a friend's freezer in a crunch (that is not really encouraged, but I'm being real here).
Not only is it acceptable, it's delicious.
When red wines are lightly chilled, their aromatics and flavors tighten. This tightening causes an energized acidity and fresh crispness that you wouldn't find in the wine at room temperature. This crispness totally takes the edge off of what you may know as "red wine drunk." It's different for everyone, but you know exactly what I'm talking about. You're going to lose some of the deeper flavors, but fuck it. Those deeper flavors are what you're usually avoiding in the heat anyway. No one is trying to drink down a cigar box full of licorice at 3 PM on a 100-degree Saturday. Keep merlot, malbec, cabernet sauvignon, nero d'Avola, syrah, and any other wine that makes you feel like your mouth is wearing cashmere long-johns at room temperature. Anything light-bodied and fruity, on the other hand, you should have had on ice half an hour ago.
No one is trying to drink down a cigar box full of licorice on a 100-degree Saturday. Keep merlot, malbec, cabernet sauvignon, nero d'Avola, syrah, and any other wine that makes you feel like your mouth is wearing cashmere long-johns at room temperature.
There are so many invigorating red wines out there that are perfect for chilling and pouring on the porch, or straight into your mouth while you hover next to your window AC unit. Beaujolais' trademark varietal, gamay, lives for this shit. Its unoaked soul mixed with its early release makes this airy, tart varietal the perfect candidate to be pulled out of a cooler at a picnic. Pinot noir's strewn silk becomes fun and flirtatious, and less of a conversation about Sideways. Lambrusco makes you question why you even bother with prosecco. Biodynamic, organic, and natural wines also work great for this because they are so youthful and pure.
The entire time I've been writing this I've been drinking La Clarine Farm's Jambalia Rouge and Amplify Carignane chilled and have never been happier in my whole life, despite it being more humid in Southern California than ever before. Both of these are from California, and the whole new California scene is great for chilling, as are most of the more eco-friendly wines coming out of France, Italy, and Spain. They tend to take on the characteristics of unfiltered cranberry juice: bright, and nearly bitter, but they're oh-so-sessionable.
Rosés and whites could fall off the Earth tomorrow and I would shed a tear, but I would not threaten suicide. I have always been and always will be consumed by the versatility, energy, and complexity of red wine. Its dynamics are like an ocean—or, at the very least, those color variations we see on vacation in the tropics. It's wonderful to swim in a bathwater warm sea, but it's also wonderful to jump into an invigorating cold body of water. And then again, you can enjoy it like a hot bowl of soup in December because no one is going to advise you otherwise. BECAUSE RED WINE RULES! AND YOU SHOULD DRINK IT CHILLED!