A Chilled Red–Your New Favorite?

When I (Chris) was first working at Robert Mondavi Winery, I heard a wonderful story about the man who made California wines famous. As it was told to me, Mr. Mondavi–the great ambassador who fought for American wines to have a place among the very best in the world–would frequently enjoy…wait for it…Merlot…keep waiting…poured over ice in a rocks glass on a warm spring or summer day. And I kind of dug that. After all, it was Mr. Mondavi who notably said, “Drink what you like and like what you drink.” And of course, having spent a lot of time around a bunch of old Italian guys who casually drink their own basement wines from tiny tumblers at the communal tables of the Colombo Club in Oakland, I loved the idea of an icon like Robert Mondavi doing the same–but with the added bonus of ice in his glass.

It was this anecdote–and the desire to craft something fun and different that honored my great-grandmother, Lucia Festa Puppione–that led me to make our 2022 FESTA Rosso. We really wanted to serve up a duo of crushable wines for our people, and while the 2022 FESTA Bianco is all you would expect from a delicious bottle of mountain-fresh white wine, the FESTA Rosso really intrigued us and has come through as a crusher.

So, if you’re a fan of red wines but find yourself craving something refreshing during the warmer months, chillable red wines might just be the answer you’ve been looking for. Chilling red wine has long been considered a faux pas by some, but a growing number of winemakers are embracing this trend, producing wines that are specifically designed to be served chilled.

But first off, what exactly is a chillable red wine? Simply put, it’s a red wine that has been designed to be served at cooler than room temperature. These wines are typically lighter in body and lower in tannins than their full-bodied counterparts, making them ideal for sipping on a hot summer day. Some common varieties of chillable red wine include Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Bardolino. But we, of course, work with Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, so we wanted to see if we could pull this off using some of our signature grapes. And I think we did it!

One of the biggest benefits of chillable red wines is their versatility. Unlike some full-bodied red wines that can only be paired with specific foods, chillable reds are much more adaptable, making them a great choice for a wide range of dishes. They’re also incredibly refreshing on their own, making them perfect for sipping during a barbecue or picnic.

Another benefit of chillable red wines is that they’re often lower in alcohol than their full-bodied counterparts. This makes them a great option for those who want to enjoy a glass of wine without getting too tipsy. It also means that you can enjoy more glasses of wine without worrying about overindulging.

But perhaps the biggest benefit of chillable red wines is their flavor. When served at the right temperature, these wines can be incredibly complex, with a range of flavors and aromas that are often overlooked when served at room temperature. The next time you pull a bottle of Pinot Noir, for example, chill it down first to a temperature similar to what you would serve your Chardonnay, and then see how you can experience a completely new perspective and realm of flavors from that bottle.

So, what’s the bottom line? Chillable red wines are a refreshing and versatile option that are perfect for warm weather sipping. If you haven’t tried a chillable red wine yet, well, here’s your chance!

We humbly suggest checking out our 2022 FESTA Rosso. Made from a blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and the white grape, Friulano, this wine is perfect for sipping on a warm spring or summer day. It’s light and refreshing with notes of blueberries, black plums, black cherry, violets, tarragon, black pepper and pairs perfectly with anything from your favorite pizza slice to paella to a handful of M&Ms. So give a chilled red wine a try–after all, it was good enough for Mr. Mondavi.

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