Jeffery Cross

Move over, rosé. It’s time for red wines to get their turn in the ice bucket

Maggie Hoffman  – June 27, 2018 | Updated July 1, 2019

Few sights are more cringe-worthy than a bottle of red sitting on a sunny picnic table at an outdoor get-together, says Shawn Mead, buyer for Seattle’s natural wine–focused bottle shop and cafe Vif Wine|Coffee. “The warmer the wine, the more alcohol evaporates off of it,” explains Mead. The result is that when you bring the glass to your lips, “the first aroma you’ll get is alcohol—a burny sensation in your nose.” But instead of pointing people who stop by her shop on their way to a cookout to already cold whites and pale rosés, Mead suggests something bolder: Tuck young, lighter reds in a cooler to go. 

Winemakers who steer clear of commercial yeast, synthetic pesticides, or large amounts of added sulfur often offer easy-drinking wines from grapes fermented to emphasize bright, fruity flavors. Think Gamays, Trousseau, and balanced blends that both quench thirst and are intense enough to stand up to barbecue classics. Nestle the bottle in ice or stash it in the fridge for 30 minutes or so before popping the cork, says Mead. “These wines are made to drink with joy and abandon.” Which is what summer is all about.

Donkey & Goat The Gallivanter 2016 (California; $20): Nimble Merlot-based blend that’s like drinking tart raspberries seasoned with black pepper.

Day Wines 2016 Papacito Pétillant Naturel (Applegate Valley; $30): Lambrusco lovers should seek out this softly fizzy, dark cherry–laden Primitivo. It satisfies the desire for bubbles without cloying sweetness.

Division-Villages 2017 “Les Petits Fers” Gamay Noir (Oregon; $25): Juicy strawberry- and rose-scented Gamay from Beaujolais-trained winemakers in the Northwest.

Populis 2017 Wabi-Sabi Red (Mendocino County; $22): Bright Carignane, red-fruited Zinfandel, and blueberry-tinged Syrah—each ferment- ed a few different ways in separate small lots—come together in a welcoming table wine.

Folk Machine 2017 Film and Camera Valdiguié (Redwood Valley, California; $23): Tangy cranberry floods this old-vine Mendocino red. Beneath the surface, though, hints of violets appear.

Broc Cellars 2016 Love Red (North Coast; $20): Tart fruit and dusty herbs shine in this light and lively blend.

Rootdown 2017 Sangiovese, Jane’s Vineyard (Mendocino; $34): Fresh meets savory in a Sangiovese packed with mouth-puckering cherry, black tea, and peppery spice.

Holden 2015 Dolcetto (Eola-Amity Hills; $28): Should more Oregon vineyards grow Italian varieties? This wine’s lovely black cherry and rosemary flavors suggest the answer is an enthusiastic yes.

Methode Sauvage 2017 Bloom Phase (California; $24): Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris grapes ferment together to make this rustic, peppery light red that would shine next to grilled tuna steaks.

Omero Cellars 2016 Gamay Noir (Willamette Valley; $25): Woodsy wine that offers layers of luscious plum and earthy mushroom— perfect for a warm night around a campfire.