As a New Yorker, I’m used to packing up my winter clothes and moving them to my storage unit to make room for my summer stuff. But the same does not have to apply to wine—just because it’s summertime (yes, it’s still summer, don’t rush me) does not mean you have to say goodbye to your beloved reds. Quite the opposite!
While most people prefer whites and rosés for the summer heat, a light-bodied red can have the same relaxing effect. Here are some of my favorite light-bodied red wines that will not weigh you down, guaranteed to be the perfect pick for when you’re poolside or by the grill. So don’t put away your reds… make room for more! Once you’re hooked on these 5 wines, read up on How to Start a Wine Collection, By the World’s #1 Wine Expert.
Grape: St. Laurent
This Austrian grape produces a wine that is similar in weight and style to Pinot Noir, with Syrah qualities as well. It has great acidity, with a floral aroma and dark cherry & spice notes. This wine is easy to drink, and pairs well with almost all food. Look for one with a little bit of age, as the wine can be tight when it’s drunk too young. Julia Sevenich, from Wine Cellar Insider, says: “St. Laurent is one of the most fascinating and valuable red wine varieties because it is capable of uniting the power and spice that one would expect of the Rhone Valley paired with the elegance and delicacy of Burgundy.” Read more about St. Laurent at The Wine Cellar Insider.
Food Pairing: Pairs well with meats and strong cheese, though can be drunk with most foods. And lucky for you, you have an excuse to drink red wine early and often since it’s one of the 10 best foods for your heart.
Region: Etna, Sicily
Grapes: Nerello Mascalese & Nerello Cappuccio
This Sicilian wine is one of my very favorite go-to’s. It pairs with almost anything and is light and easy to drink, while still being complex and layered. The Etna D.O.C. is situated on the slopes of the largest active volcano in Europe, Mount Etna. The volcanic ash brings a beautiful salinity to these wines, which also have notes of ripe fruit and sweet spices.
Food Pairing: Pairs well with pastas, tomato sauces, poultry, salmon, tuna. (Almost anything goes with this easy drinking wine! But if you need some inspiration, here’s a recipe that we love: Baked Salmon with Beets, Citrus, and Avocado.)
Region: Emilia Romagna, Northern Italy
Grapes: Many very old Italian varieties
Lambrusco is a perfect summer red wine, as it’s light and bubbly and pairs nicely with many things. It’s also very refreshing and great on its own! Styles range from dry to semi-sweet, and have notes of cherry & blackberry with great acidity and a touch of bitterness. Read more on Lambrusco and its different styles at Wine Folly.
Food Pairing: This wine goes great with almost anything. Cheese, Indian food, empanadas, meats, even (and maybe especially) cake!
Region: Burgundy, France
Beaujolais wine has gotten a bad rap in the States, largely due to its image as a cheap wine with overly-cheerful labels. The bottles labeled Beaujolais have been dismissed as well for their connection with the annual Beaujolais Nouveau celebration, which is when the region’s first red wine of the year is released (always on the third Thursday in November). But inexpensive is not a bad thing, here, since its quality speaks volumes and makes it a great bang for your buck: With vibrant fruit and trademark acidity, combined with earthy, savory tones, this wine is not to be dismissed. And the cat is finally coming out of the bag about this Burgundian gem—as Forbes Magazine put it, “Beaujolais Crus are authentic, very drinkable, extremely food-friendly and reasonably priced.”
Food Pairing: Coq au vin, roast chicken, meat dishes in sauces, wild game, sweet potatoes, butternut squash… even great with Chinese food!
Region: Loire Valley, France
Grape: Cabernet Franc
She’ll lure you in with her beautiful perfume aromas, and then surprise you with the salty, green pepper notes on your palate. And just when you think you’ve figured her out, she’ll finish you off with juicy red fruit that gets your taste buds ready for whatever you’re about to eat with her. Don’t be fooled by her inexpensive price—this lady is a class act, and worth so much more. As striking as the Chinon region of the Loire Valley that she hails from, this wine is as multifaceted as you could ever want.
Food Pairing: Roast chicken, steak frites, tender red meats, cheese—but also great alone! For more relevant wine advice, check out the 6 Savvy Wine Ordering Moves to Wow Your Clients.
Shana Wall is a Certified Sommelier, Cellar Consultant, and Contributing Editor for Best Life Magazine. Follow her on Instagram or email her at Shana@BestLifeMag.com.
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