Table Settings

The Heat is On

Tips for enjoying wine in the summer

By Raymond Dickinson
Photo by Jacob Eubank

As the temps heat up, the shift to playing outside in Montana is on. Many of our adult beverage choices also shift to match the activities. If you are a wine lover, white wine becomes the natural go-to: crisp, light, refreshing and you can throw some in the cooler or refrigerator. If you are a red wine lover, don’t be afraid to put a little chill on those, too. 

Putting white wine in the cooler or refrigerator is very common, and in fact is almost always done. Red wine, though, is usually thought to be consumed at room temperature. Is it taboo to put your red wine in there, too? Not at all! With any wine, however, either red or white, too cold is not the best either. Wines chilled down to refrigerator temperature or soaking in a cooler full of ice might feel refreshing, but if wines get too cold they close down, making them difficult to taste and express themselves fully. Wines that come up to temperature and are typically 70+ degrees start to release the alcohol off a little, which affects the way the wines smell and taste. You want to be able to smell and taste the wines. A big shot of alcohol in the nose can be a turn-off and make your experience unenjoyable. 

First off, shift your red wine choices to lighter body reds. Red wines that are acid forward are perfect. Pinot Noir, Gamay Beaujolais and Grenache are slam dunk choices for a little chill as the weather gets warmer. These varietals also are perfect for food pairings that go with summer activities and food choices. Grilled meats and vegetables work really well with acid-forward wines. The extra fat, oil and concentrated flavors of grilled or smoked meats coat your mouth with flavor. A little sip of some of your acid-forward red washes your mouth out — it is complementary and refreshing. It gets your palate ready for your next bite of food. What about Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah or Zinfandel? These wines can be chilled down, too! However, your drinking experience will be improved if you can leave those heartier red varieties for the colder months or eating inside where the house is cool. Keep in mind that room temperature is considered 68 degrees or cooler. 

Whatever you decide to do, remember that wine rules can be changed and bent sometimes. Do what sounds good to you. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things. Be adventurous and play around with different wine and food combinations. At the end of the day, it is your experience that matters most. Cheers!