Le Bernardin’s Sommelier Picks the Best Red Wines for Summer

There’s no need to keep these reds on the rack till fall.

Chances are you tend to gravitate toward the whites when you’re looking for a bottle of wine to sip on a summer evening. But reds can be just as refreshing when it’s hot, if you know which ones to pick. We asked Aldo Sohm, wine master at four-star Manhattan restaurant Le Bernardin and widely considered one of the world’s greatest sommeliers, for his selections and tips on enjoying some reds this summer.

Keep It Light

“The first thing you’re looking at is the alcohol content. You generally want it to be lower in alcohol, because when it is hot out the alcohol will show more. A 15% zinfandel would be terrible in the heat; clunky and heavy with alcohol. You take one sip and then it has no flow anymore. When you’re sitting with your friends and it’s hot out there, you want to have a certain drinking flow. It’s part of having a great time.”

Keep It Young

“The next thing you are looking for is freshness, younger wines, like Beaujolais from the village of Morgon or some of the lighter pinot noirs. They’re light in fruit and really high in acidity. The tannins are very soft and supple, and the alcohol is low. Or you could try something from Burgundy. But you’re not looking for anything too fancy.”   

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Keep It Cool

“Another thing you want to pay attention to is the temperature. I would personally serve it rather cooler. People have a misconception that they should serve it room temperature. But what is room temperature—72 degrees? 78? You want the wine to be cooler, because when it’s hot the wine will go up four or five degrees as soon as you pour it in the glass. And soon it will lose its freshness and flavor. So put the bottle in the fridge for one to two hours before drinking. That will neutralize the heat.”

Aldo’s 5 Favorite Summer Reds:

Morgon, Marcel Lapierre, Beaujolais, 2011

Bourgogne Rouge Marquis D’Angerville, 2009

Fleurie, Julien Sunier, Beaujolais, 2012

Pinot Noir Tous les Ensemble, Copain, Anderson Valley, 2011

Wölffer Rosé, Long Island, 2011

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