Light reds: a topic near and dear to my heart. Chilling red wine was once a faux pas; ask for an ice cube for your pinot and expect a death stare from your waiter. But these days an appetite for juicy reds with a touch of chill is just what the doctor ordered.

How much chill is the right amount of chill, you ask? And which wines take best to a dip in the Esky? There’s no one-temperature-fits-all answer, per se, but if you’re curious, try taking your red down to fridge temperature (about four degrees) first and monitoring how it warms up after one glass. As for which wines drink best cold, well, that depends on what you’re trying to achieve. Chilling a lighter style, such as a gamay or pinot, might make it more refreshing, while chilling a heavier style can go some way to muting big tannins and bolder flavours. Not every drop will benefit from time on ice, but there are no wrong answers here: wine is about working out what you like and experimenting with temperature and style.

Starting things off with some low-alc bubbles, Travail piquette is made using pinot noir skins that are re-fermented with some of Central Victoria’s finest H2O. This one has bright-red cherry notes balanced with some fresh white pepper, and drinks equally well over a fireside chat as it does at a day on the green. If you’re looking for something more dark and mysterious, might I suggest the Thick as Thieves ‘Purple Prose’ gamay? Meaty, spicy, and with just the right amount of chocolatey richness. While this might sound like a big glass of red, the texture is light and soft, which means this bottle would appreciate a quick 20-minute dip in the fridge. 

Heading from gamay to pinot noir is a natural progression, so Combes ‘In The Dirt’ pinot noir it is. Grown on the volcanic soils of Macclesfield, this pinot noir has been wild-fermented, which adds a lively kick to the glass; expect fruit tingle acids and brambly fruits. Continuing on the lighter grape path, try the Minim Colbinabbin sangiovese: cherry, raspberry, and a hint of spice – the perfect match for summer pasta and soft cheeses. I love a fruit-salad wine (a cuvée made using multiple grapes) and the team at Trutta have released an excellent example in their ‘Summer Rouge’ release. Made in collaboration with wine retailer Not Wasted, this bottle is all about blackberries and blueberries, with a subtle herbaceous note.

Next up is the Découpage syrah (which also answers to the name of “shiraz”. This wine is made from the syrah grape and offers flavours of dark fruit, black pepper, and a hint of oak. It’s a full-bodied wine that pairs well with grilled meats or strong cheeses. Next, we have the Icarus cabernet merlot. This wine is a blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot grapes and has flavours of black cherry, cassis, and a hint of oak. If you’re looking to change even the most stubborn big red drinker into a chilled red fanatic, this is the one to put on ice.

The Little Reddie Colbinabbin refosco rosso has returned for another year and I couldn’t be happier about it. A breakout star of 2020, this wine is made from the refosco dal peduncolo rosso grape. Expect to taste violets and tart red berries: an abundantly refreshing addition to your drinks fridge. Finally, we have the Tavolo Rosso, a blend of several red grapes that’s packed with flavours of red fruit, herbs and just the right amount of spicy bite. It’s medium- to full-bodied, but is so velvety smooth that it won’t knock you out after one glass.

Chilled reds: get ’em while they’re cold.