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  • Writer's pictureFrancesca De Franco

6 Great Red Wines for Summer Drinking

Updated: Jul 3

Summer red wines

When the mercury starts rising, it often feels like the right time to swap from red wines to whites and rosés. I love nothing more than a crisp and refreshing Fruliano or a mouthwatering Chablis. However, I often still hanker after a red, but it has to be something that suits the warmer weather and importantly pairs well with summer foods. That means no to the big Australian Shirazes, beefy Malbecs and complex Cabernet Sauvignons.

Generally speaking, good summer red choices are lighter-bodied with lower tannin levels and have a fruit-forward profile. Here are some great red wine options for summer.

Perfect summer red wines


 Summer red wines - Bardolino
Recchia Bardolino

Bardolino is made from a blend of the Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara grapes, which combine to create a light-bodied and fruity red wine with plenty of cherries, strawberries and raspberries. Bardolinos are usually high in acidity and low in tannins and often draw comparisons with certain Beaujolais. Serving them lightly chilled enhances their freshness.

Bardolinos are versatile and can accompany many foods ordinarily served with white wine, pairing well with summery dishes such as salads, grilled vegetables, light pasta dishes, and seafood. You can also enjoy it on its own.


Summer red wine Georges Dubœuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2023
Georges Dubœuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2023

Made from the thin-skinned Gamay grape, Beaujolais wines are, in the main, light-bodied and very fruity with bright flavours of cherry and raspberry. Beaujolais Nouveau is the lightest style. You can barely detect any tannins and they are extremely quaffable.

Beaujolais is a very versatile wine (claimed to be among the world's most food-friendly wines), pairing well with charcuterie, chicken, pork, and even fish. Like Bardolino, Beaujolais can be enjoyed slightly chilled.

Summer red wines - Beaujolais Cru: Fleurie
The Fleurie appellation is among ten Beaujolais crus

If you're after something with more complexity, try a Beaujolais Cru. These are the highest quality wines of the region, hailing from ten villages named on the label as an individual appellation. Fleurie is a popular example.

Pinot Noir

Abbott Claim, Willamette Valley, Oregon Pinot Noir - Summer red wines
Abbott Claim, Willamette Valley, Oregon Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is usually light-to-medium body and predominantly has soft, light tannins owing to the grape's thin skin. Examples from cooler climate regions such as Oregon, Burgundy (Pinot Noir's heartland), New Zealand and England exhibit the fresh and fruity flavours of strawberry, redcurrant, raspberry and cherry as opposed to the riper and sometimes jammier notes of their warm climate counterparts. Pinot Noirs originating from cooler climate areas tend to be more delicate with a refreshing acidity, which makes them a good summer option.

Another very versatile wine, Pinot Noir pairs well with a wide range of foods such as charcuterie, pâte, chicken, duck, salmon and tuna. The more tannic and weightier variants are a good match for more robust foods and are an ideal accompaniment to BBQs that include red meat.


Lambrusco in Emilia-Romagna - summer red wine
When in Bologna drink Lambrusco!

Lambrusco (the name of the grape and the wine itself) is a semi-sparkling red hailing from the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy. It has suffered quite an image problem primarily due to the mass American importation of cheap, sweet, fizzy pop versions in the 70s/80s.

Let us leave that horror (though the advert is undeniably catchy) back in those decades and fast forward to now - a happier time when good quality Lambruscos have started infiltrating foreign markets. Lambrusco can be sweet, semi-secco (half-dry/demi-sec), or dry - the latter being the best. Quality ones to look out for are Lambrusco di Sorbara, Lambrusco Maestri, Lambrusco Grasparossa and Lambrusco Salamino.

Lambrusco is very fruit-forward and refreshing (always served chilled) with differing flavour profiles according to style. You can encounter red and black cherries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, violets, watermelon, orange peel and even rhubarb. It makes for a wonderful aperitif and pairs beautifully with the region's cuisine. Think local charcuterie and cheese and meat-stuffed tortellini. Here, Lambrusco's high acidity cuts through the fat of these delicacies.  

Read a great article by Jason Wilson about Lambrusco here. Also, remember it's World Lambrusco Day on June 21st!


Frappato from Sicily is a great summer red wine
Frappato from Sicily

Frappato is a grape variety that is primarily grown in Sicily. It is often blended; another Sicilian favourite - Nero d'Avola - is its chief, more powerful blending partner. As a varietal wine, it is light-bodied, fresh and fruity with high acidity. It delivers vibrant strawberry, raspberry and cherry flavours and often has delicate floral aromas, characteristics that frequently see it heralded as the Sicilian answer to Beaujolais. However, its herby and spicy undertones express the terroir beautifully and give it a complexity that doesn't inhibit its lightness.

It is very drinkable and refreshing, especially when slightly chilled. You can enjoy Frappato alone, but it also goes exceptionally well with fish - especially tuna and swordfish -, white meats, cured meats, grilled vegetables, tomato-based pasta dishes and cheeses.

Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso

Summer red wine Russolo Refosco Dal Peduncolo Rosso
Russolo Refosco Dal Peduncolo Rosso

Refosco is an under-the-radar grape found in Slovenia, Croatia and north east Italy; sub-variety Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso ('red stem'), most commonly found in Friuli, is generally regarded as producing the best quality wine.

This Russolo Refrosco is reminiscent of a Burgundy and is full of fresh, wild berry flavours, cherries and plum alongside violets accompanied by a delicate smoke. This doesn't immediately scream perfect summer sup, but this is a wine of two acts, a slight Jekyll and Hyde. Whilst the tannins are clearly detectable, they are subtle, non-assertive and balanced by a good level of acidity.

This is more full bodied than other wines listed here and is great if you're looking for something that's a bit different from the usual light reds. It has a shroud of complexity but is still refreshing and can be served slightly chilled. It pairs well with a variety of summer foods, including grilled meats, pasta dishes, and even some seafood.

Cheers to adding red wines to your summer repertoire!

PS Anna from The Barolo Wine Club explores how you can enjoy Nebbiolo in the warmer months of the year here.

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2 則留言

Stephen Collom
Stephen Collom

Great blog and would love to try the Pinot Noir😊🤣👏

Francesca De Franco
Francesca De Franco

A wonderful Pinot Noir from an amazing Old World v New World tasting.

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