Iced, iced, pinot.

By Betty Gold
Updated March 17, 2021
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As springtime has (well, almost) reared its glorious little head, we're starting to see more and more enthusiasm from wine drinkers professing their love of chilling down their reds. Talk about a great wine trick for this transitional time of year. But here's the thing: Chilling reds is no old wives' tale, meaning it has nothing in common with that great aunt of yours who prefers her white zin swimming in ice cubes. According to Eduardo Dingler, a sommelier who served as the corporate beverage director of Morimoto Restaurants and now acts as the VP of wine at Wine Access, some red wines actually show their best attributes when cooled down a touch.

Why? Because most reds are typically served too warm and whites too cold. "But taking it a step further and chilling reds down has become the secret weapon for clever hosts pouring in the spring or summer heat," says Dingler. (Make sure to see our guide to quickly chilling wine here.)

You might not ordinarily think to sneak these four varietals in the fridge, but we strongly recommend doing so the next time you're serving sips.

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Pinot Noir

Most pinot noirs don't have the strong tannins that make some other styles of red wines less-than-ideal for chilling. This is because tannins in wine get exaggerated when the wine is cold and dominate the taste of the wine.

"Every time I tout a pinot noir to a BYO restaurant, I'll ask the servers to chill the bottle down a bit, because I think the wild, brambly fruit characters of these wines actually show better with a light chill on them," Dingler says.

Try this wine chilled for about 60-75 minutes in the fridge before serving (if it starts at room temperature).

Zinfandel

"Many people don't think of Zinfandel as a candidate for being chilled, but I believe the bright, stewed fruits that are characteristic of wines from this grape shine through when they've been cooled down a bit. Some of the more over-extracted versions of these wines can be a peppery and jammy mess when left in the wrong hands; I tend to like zins from older vines that have strong fruit concentration without seeming overly sweet," Dingler says.

Try this wine chilled for about 45-60 minutes in the fridge before serving.

Cabernet Sauvignon

"The vast majority of cabernet shouldn't be chilled, but the more value-driven cabernets—with a lower alcohol content that are meant to be drunk young—can be great chilled or as a base for sangria," explains Dingler. You typically don't want a light-bodied wine for sangria, because the fruits (and other liquor you may add) will dominate the flavor of the lighter wine and create off flavors. "Therefore, whenever I'm making sangria, I'll usually use a medium- to full-bodied cabernet or malbec that don't offer a lot of tannins to set a strong base for my summer sipping," Dingler says.

As Dingler mentions, if you're looking to serve your reds super chilled, sangria is a great place to go.

Try this wine chilled for about 45-60 minutes in the fridge before serving.

Cabernet Franc

A slight chill will activate the mouthwatering peppery attributes and high acid in cool climate reds, like cabernet franc from the Loire. "This makes it an ideal poolside red," adds Dingler.

Try this wine chilled for about 60-75 minutes in the fridge before serving.