WINE O’CLOCK: It’s cool to give your red a chill
I am fortunate to have a very good friend who is fortunate to have a very good house in a very good part of southern France.
A visit there is a pleasure I enjoy every summer. But not this year, alas.
Even if the flight restrictions are lifted, I fear other rules would spoil the holiday. For what is the point of southern France if I can’t shop in the markets, and sit at little cafés and restaurants enjoying good food and red wine?
And, yes, it is nearly always red. The region makes a lot of that very light pink rosé I wrote about last week, but locals tend to leave it to the tourists. They will drink white as an aperitif or, maybe, if they are sitting around a pool. But with a meal, even a nibble of cheese or saucisson, it will always be red.
And when they bring out the red on a warm summer’s night around Avignon, it will be lightly chilled. Some waiters will ask if you want it that way, but for most it is so normal they don’t bother to ask.
When I suggest chilling red wine in Ireland, it raises eyebrows, like it was a form of sacrilege. But a slightly chilled red is good for summer sipping.
I’m talking chilled, not frozen. Half an hour in the fridge will do fine, or pop it in an ice bucket.
This treatment works best with light reds. It will spoil a vintage claret and is wasted on the sort of South African and Australian wine that gets described as ‘robust’.
It will work well with Pinot Noir or any wine that has Beaujolais on its label, or the related Fleurie or Gamay.
Italy produces some nice, light reds that chill well. Anything with Valpolicello on the label or a Frappato from Sicily.
They say heavily oaked reds are best not chilled . But tastes vary. If it’s a nice, light fruity red, try sticking it in the fridge.
Il Padrino Rosso (€9, O’Briens)
This is exactly the sort of Italian I was talking about. A juicy, fruity, soft wine from western Sicily
La Boussole Pinot Noir ‘Les Grandes Côtes’ Pays d’Oc (€14,45, Le Caveau Kilkenny)
A fresh, fruity wine from the Languedoc. Not too sweet and with, for a red, a relatively low alcohol level of 12.5%
Sartori Valpolicella Ripasso (€19.99, SuperValu)
Don’t be fooled by the ruby-red colour. This is a soft Italian wine that chills well. SuperValu had it in a sale for a tenner but I think it back to full price now.
Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais Villages (€16.95, Ardkeen Store, Waterford)
Good Beaujolais is for easy drinking and you can chill out well with this one.