Chilled reds are hot right now. For the past several years, wine lovers have been embracing this light, quaffable style, and the category continues to grow and evolve. I mean, who wouldn’t want to cool down a juicy red wine during a hot summer like this?
Technically, you can throw any red wine in the fridge and call it a day. But we think there are certain characteristics that make a bottle ideal for serving below the typical temperature. For a wine to thrive when chilled, it should be high-acid for refreshment value, low-tannin, and fruit-forward — pretty aromatics are also a plus. Serving a wine at a cooler temperature mutes its fruit characteristics and emphasizes the structure, so if you have a wine with mellow fruit and high tannin, chilling it won’t be doing the wine any favors.
There are many wines that historically fit this profile, either due to the grape variety or winemaking style. Beaujolais, a classic chillable red wine made from the Gamay grape in France, has long been the poster child for this category. Adored for its bright berry flavors and drinkability, these wines acted as the gateway for many to dive deeper into the world of glou.
While Beaujolais is still a star in this genre, as evidenced by the several great bottles on this list, the popularity of chilled reds has inspired countries like Spain and Italy to embrace their local light-bodied grapes like Mencia and Frappato, and led producers outside Europe to experiment with different varieties and production methods, with great success. We love the creativity that this trend has sparked — from growing Gamay in California and Zweigelt in Oregon, to crafting Vidal Blanc and Chambourcin co-ferments in Virginia. We tried it all, and were very impressed with the results.
Here are VinePair’s top 21 chillable red wines for 2023.
Table Of Contents
The Best Chillable Red Wines Under $25
Brigaldara Valpolicella 2022
Brigaldara is a historic producer in Northern Italy’s Valpolicella region that has been in production since the 12th century. The vineyards were maintained by monks of the Augustinian order for much of its history, and the winey changed hands a few times until it was bought by the Cesari family in 1928. Today the family oversees 120 hectares, 47 of which are under vine. The remaining land is still planted to olive groves, crops, pastures, and woods. This is a regionally defining wine. If you have not enjoyed wines from the “pearl of Verona” this is a great introduction. Elegant jamminess on the nose with pops of pepper way down deep. It has a soft supple palate with an amazing viscous texture and just the right amount of acidity. Enjoy the depth and the refreshment.
Average Price: $15
Dominique Piron Morgon La Chanaise 2021
Dominique Piron is a 14th-generation winemaker (let that sink in for a sec) in Morgon, one of the high-quality cru appellations in the Beaujolais region of France. His earliest known ancestor was born in the late 16th century under the reign of King Henry III. This region is really where it all began for us wine lovers chilling down red wines. Before a new generation of winemakers started embracing this style, Bojo (the industry’s affectionate nickname for Beaujolais) was in the fridge. And this bottle shows us why. It’s spicy and juicy with extremely quiet yet present hints of cinnamon. The palate is wonderful with savory and fruit-forward harmony. It’s a pleasant wine from start to finish and reigns in the chill department.
Average Price: 18
Toast Winery Cabernet Franc 2021
New Jersey natives Mike and Jayne Gibbs ventured to the Finger Lakes to pursue their dream of making wine. They settled in on the west side of Seneca Lake to create Toast Winery, a name that not only refers to the characteristics that toasted barrels can add to wine, but also their love for hospitality as they raise a glass to their customers. This Cabernet Franc with a slight chill on it will make you want to get in your car and head to their tasting room. The nose is punchy with pops of cherry. It has a great palate with a slightly candied, juicy vibe flecked with classic Cab Franc peppery notes. A very refreshing chilled red wine.
Average Price: $21
Albamar Capitán Xurelo 2019
Winemaker Xurxo Alba of Bodegas Albamar focuses on the Albarino grape on his sustainable and organic family farm in Spain’s Galicia region. This was a family tradition for years and not a commercial enterprise, operating out of a small cellar in Cambados next to his parents’ restaurant and artisanal foodstuff shop. But in 2006, Alba decided to take the next step and started to bottle and sell his wines. Since then he has been planting more vineyards and expanding the varieties he wants to work with. If this red blend of Mencía, Caíño, and Espadeiro is where he’s headed, we can’t wait for more. It has wonderful herby red fruit and some rhubarb on the nose. It fills your palate with good acidity and a savory fruity vibe. Very cool wine.
Average Price: $23
Tóth Ferenc Egri Kadarka 2019
For 40 years Tóth Ferenc has been making wine in the Egri region of Hungary. Uncle Feri dreamed of planting vines, making wine, and sharing it with his friends. Two decades later the winery is one of the most celebrated in the region and in the country. They make age-worthy wines alongside a more casual and refreshing line of bottles that are geared toward Uncle Feri’s initial dream. The Kadarka grape is native to the Balkans. It is thought that this variety was introduced to Hungary by the Serbs or maybe from Bulgaria. Wherever it’s from, it thrives here and Tóth Ferenc would like to introduce you to this very unique grape. The nose has an earthy aroma like wicker and eucalyptus with some very subtle fruit notes. The palate is very cool with a grippy edge and bloody fruit. It’s extremely balanced and a very cool wine. Chill down something new!
Average Price: $23
Laura Lardy Gourde à Gamay 2022
Laura is the fourth generation of a Beaujolais winemaking family. As the story typically goes, she initially wanted to avoid going into the family business, but after a brief stint working for another company, the vineyards called her back. Laura rents vineyards from her father, Lucien, which she started to convert to organic agriculture in 2017. Both Lucien and brother Yohan make wines under their own names as well. Laura makes absolutely delicious wine from the region’s native variety, Gamay. She also works with Chardonnay, and this bottle will have you wanting to taste her entire lineup. It smells juicy and lean, with that faint hint of earth. The palate has a nice grip to it and the fruit is tight and balanced by subtle acidity. A slight chill on this wine will send you.
Average Price: $24
The Best Chillable Red Wines Under $50
Early Mountain Vineyards Young Wine Red 2022
Tucked into the foothills of the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia, this winery began in 2005 when Jess and Sharon Sweely planted their first vineyards here. In 2010, Jean and Steve Case bought the property and gave the land its current name in 2012. They expanded the land under vine in 2015 and have since been a driving force in the new generation of winemaking in the commonwealth. This is truly a Virginia winery listening to the land and not the current fads. The skill they employ with everything they do from farming, to vinification, and sustainable business practices is a standard-bearer in the state. This wine is an excellent example of who they are. Hybrids are a big part of U.S. wine history, and Early Mountain knows how to treat them right. Like this Vidal Blanc and Chambourcin co-ferment gem. It has a big, grapey, juicy nose that will casually draw you in. With the slightest hint of savory pepper, there is a good balance on the palate with concentrated medium fruit and prominent tannins that are very well integrated. The chill factor here goes to 11.
Average Price: $25
Abbazia di Novacella Schiava 2022
Abbazia di Novacella (the Abbey of the town of Novacella) has been producing wine since the 12th century in the region of Alto Adige in Northern Italy. The Augustinian monks who steward the abbey farm vines as well as other crops, since their vows allow them to work to make a living. But make no mistake, wine is the main focus here, with an oenology school on the property as well as their in-house oenologist who was named winemaker of the year in 2009 by the Gambero Rosso (an authority in wine in Italy). They make wonderful wines at a price that makes no sense, but is wholly welcome, based on quality. Schiava, an elegant, light-bodied grape native to this region, is a wine not seen too often on our market, but Abbazia brings it to the U.S. in a wide enough distribution for us all to enjoy. A juicy nose with ripe fruit and a saline quality. The palate is dry with grippy fruit that becomes vibrant with a chill.
Average Price: $27
Stolpman ‘Love You Bunches’ Red 2022
Stolpman Vineyards is tucked into the eastern section of the larger Santa Barbara County, in an AVA called Ballard Canyon. It benefits from a coastal wind while still clocking in some serious sun hours making it great for Rhône varieties. And 20 years ago that’s exactly what founding partner Tom Stolpman set out to do. But wait. There’s more. In the cooler western Los Alamos corridor nearby, they harvest Sangiovese, and in true innovative American fashion give it a carbonic ferment resulting in this extremely fresh and delicious wine. The nose has bruised fruit and an earthy feel, maybe even some cinnamon. There’s a good balance on the palate with awesome acidity and fruit. Punchy, simple, and easy — but noticeably well made.
Average Price: $27
Montezuma Winery Voleur Saperavi 2022
Phil Plummer has been making wine in New York’s Finger Lakes region for over a decade, spending the bulk of those years at Montezuma Winery, where he has served as head winemaker since 2013. In his time at Montezuma, Phil has taken a lead role in the development and production of a wide-ranging portfolio of wines made from grapes, fruit, and honey, and was instrumental in the launch of Montezuma’s sister winery, Idol Ridge. We loved the winery’s skin contact bottling made from the hybrid grape Traminette, and this Saperavi is giving us the vibes as well! This native Georgian variety’s name translates to “dye” due its inky dark color, and thrives in a cool climate, making it a natural addition to the New York winemaking scene. The Voleur Saperavi is unoaked and is brimming with aromatics with floral notes like rose petals and some cranberries. The palate is balanced with tight fruit and medium acidity, holding everything together. Refreshing yet deep.
Average Price: $28
Milan Nestarec Barvířka 2021
According to its website, “Milan Nestarec is not a winery … [but instead] ideas that just happen to be represented through wine.” The energy here is palpable. This idea palace is chock full of great ones including the idea that “the most important thing is the person who makes the wine. It’s not about a varietal, or a famous village in a famous region — because even those wines can get the bad karma of being massacred in the cellar.” Had to put this quote here because it is a statement you just don’t see these days, but has a refreshing tone — like this wine. It has spicy fruit with cinnamon energy and a rhubarb under layer. The palate is tart and rich with refreshing ripe fruit. The savory vibe turns to balsamic and it is great. There’s a little fizz but everything is in the right place. Also, you just gotta see this website.
Average Price: $30
Valle dell’Acate Il Frappato 2021
Valle dell’Acate lies in the southeast corner of Sicily, situated between the Iblei mountains and Mediterranean Sea in the province of Ragusa. It was Giuseppe Jacono who got things started here in the 19th century, establishing a modern winery and focusing on the native grapes, including Frappato. In the early ‘80s, Giuseppe Jacono Jr. took over operations with his daughter Gaetana, who began fostering international relationships to bring these wines to the U.S. Frappato is wonderful when chilled, and this bottle is one of the best on the market. It has a scented floral nose with berries and anise aromas. I smell Toblerone and I’m not mad at it. It has an enticing palate with a beautiful weighted yet vibrant texture, bursting with acidity. This wine!
Average Price: $30
Johan Vineyards Zweigelt 2021
Whenever you see the word corridor in wine — that means wind. Many vineyards on the West Coast are planted in the direct wind currents and fog lines rushed inland by wind gaps in between coastal mountain ranges. If the soil is right in these areas vines thrive, digging deep to persist against the extreme corridor climate. Johan Vineyards is one of five bonded wineries within the Van Duzer Corridor AVA, Oregon’s newest demarcated wine region. Johan Vineyards is showing us why the AVA deserves its own designation, with outstanding cool-climate wines like this Zweigelt, a grape native to Austria. The nose is punchy and savory with somewhat spicy fruit and an overall earthiness. The palate is dry but expressive with very high acidity, but enough fruit to hold up to it. This chillable red wants food.
Average Price: $34
Corey Creek Cabernet Franc 2022
If you read our Chardonnay or rosé best-of list this year you may recognize this name. Marin Brennan of Bedell Cellars and Corey Creek Tap Room is doing things on Long Island that are not only pushing the boundaries of the region, but showing just how innovative this new generation of winemakers can be. When she’s not aging Chardonnay on Peconic Bay oyster shells or making Malbec rosé and white Cabernet Franc, she is making extremely chillable and delicious wines like this Cab Franc, Viognier seven-day co-ferment! It’s earthy and jammy on the nose with some savory pepper and baker’s chocolate. The fruit on the palate is soft with pops of juiciness and some good tannin. This is the chilled red for meat dishes. Full stop. Period.
Average Price: $35
Neighborhood Winery Blood Moon 2022
Pali Wine Co. is a family business and a wine collective. Browsing their website will make you want to learn everything about them. The Neighborhood winery is one-third of the collective and “specializes in interesting, zippy, fun cuvées — both daring and traditional — that push the boundaries of conventional wine flavor profiles.” Wine lovers, this is an understatement. This group of humans is making some of the most interesting and out-of-the-box wines in the state of California. They are part of a new generation of winemakers not bound by the classic styles and varieties coveted in the past. And the best part is that these wines are extremely balanced and sound, making them so much fun to taste through. The Blood Moon is no exception. The blend of Pinot Noir, Syrah, Gamay, and Sangiovese, each fermented separately before blending, is a home run for American wine ingenuity. It smells like a bunch of mashed juicy delicious fruit, with citrus and a dose of cinnamon. It has nice deep fruit on the palate and a slight grip with excellent acidity. Juicy, delicious, and begging to be chilled!
Average Price: $35
Scar of the Sea Bassi Vineyard Pinot Gris & Pinot Noir 2022
Mikey and Gina Giugni started Scar of the Sea in 2012. They love being able to work, live, and play by the sea, so the Central Coast was a prime location to get their start. They source from sustainable vineyards that farm for the future and coax those quality grapes into awesomeness. They are part of a new generation of American winemakers with an insatiable appetite for experimentation and exploring new ways of making good wine. This Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris co-fermented red is a prime example, and when it sees a slight chill, oh, man does it come alive. Bright ripe fruit complements the nose with a short burst of cinnamon and cherry. The mouthfeel has a good dry grip with a jammy center. The tannins are prominent but not overbearing as the juicy fruit comes in with a calm depth. Magic coming out of San Luis Obispo.
Average Price: $36
Outward Wines Presqu’ile Vineyard Gamay 2022
Natalie Siddique and Ryan Pace are behind Outward Wines. It’s a partnership focused on the love of travel, wine, and a sense of place. They source grapes from across the large swath of land, soils, and climates of California’s Central Coast. They seek out ocean influence and sustainable agriculture when choosing vineyards to work with, and aim to make wine inspired by their travels. Their Gamay is a great example of this. It calls back the chilled reds of Parisian bistros while being uniquely American. Roasted fruit on the nose with some earthy cherry notes and a slight herby tinge. It has great acidity and is lively on the palate. A great example of a chillable red.
Average Price: $38
Pax Rancho Coda Gamay Noir 2022
The Mahles began making wine in the new millennium. They are well known for their big bold Syrah wines. As time went on, Pax Mahles began experimenting with more varieties and sourcing from vineyards that maintain sustainable agricultural practices in cool climates. The style today is lower alcohol and a more elegant experience in the glass. They still make Syrah but have expanded into new territory with varieties like Vermentino, Pinot Blanc, and this incredible example of Gamay Noir. It has soft, dark fruit notes with some saline, blueberries, cherries, and all kinds of fruit. The palate is amazing with more soft fruit and impeccable balance. The acidity is perfect, allowing the wine to maintain depth while still being refreshing. This one hits many palate preferences.
Average Price: $38
Hirsch ‘Bohan Dillon’ Pinot Noir 2021
The Bohan-Dillon Pinot Noir is inspired by David Hirsch’s love of the village wines of France. He wanted it to be a wine made with the same care and attention as the estate’s top wines but at a village-like price. The grapes are sourced from three West Sonoma Coast vineyards and the sense of place shines through in this wine. And with a slight chill, the village vibe increases. To call this wine stunning would be an understatement. Immediately upon pouring this wine, you are drawn in by its aromas. The balance on the nose borders on perfection with that undeniable Pinot Noir everything with subtle plum-like cherry notes and earthy thyme. The palate shows fantastic balance and a soft, all-encompassing mouthfeel. It’s amazing. Acid, fruit, tannin. All of it is in harmony.
Average Price: $45
The Best Chillable Red Wines Over $50
Ryme Cellars Bag-in-Box Chilly Rouge 2022
According to Ryan and Megan Glaab of Ryme Cellars, “The wines are always encouraged, never controlled.” It’s a wonderful acknowledgment that all wine needs coaxing and a human touch even when focusing on aspects like no filtration or temperature controls. Their goal is to make great wine with grapes that they believe can thrive in California. This doesn’t just include the noble varieties that get most of the attention, but more uncommon grapes like Alicante Bouschet, Fiano, and Ruché. And the results are delicious. This is a bag-in-box red wine that was literally built to chill. Malbec, Vermentino, and Grüner Veltliner come together to achieve the pinnacle of balance and refreshment in the chilled reds category. This wine is the definition of a laid-back casual chilled red (with a dose of white). It has a calm, fruity nose, but the palate is where it hits just right with the chill. It has a good depth of fruit and that great acidity keeps it refreshing. It’s juicy, balanced, approachable, and fun. Also, the box is equivalent to four bottles, so the price comes out to less than $17 per bottle!
Average Price: $65
Alvaredos-Hobbs Ribeira Sacra Mencía 2020
In 2015, renowned California winemaker Paul Hobbs was walking with Antonio López Fernández around Antonio’s village of Alvarados in the Ribera Sacra region of Spain. As they touched vines and smelled the soil, it was apparent that this land had great potential. They headed back to Madrid and a lifelong partnership was formed. Together they offer this amazing wine made from the native Mencía grape and we are all better off for it. If this grape is new to you, get ready to be very excited. Savory fruit on the nose with some pepper and plum and a dose of cured meat welcomes the senses. The palate is so damn balanced with deep fruit framed perfectly by soft, integrated tannins. With a slight chill, it’s kind of epic.
Average Price: $75
What makes a red wine chillable?
Wines that have a fruit-forward, aromatic flavor profile make a great candidate for a chilled red. You also want to make sure that the wine isn’t too high in tannin, as serving tannic wines at a cold temperature can be a bit abrasive. If the wine has good acidity, that is always a plus, too, as it enhances the refreshment and drinkability factors of the wine.
What are the best red wines to chill?
Although it is important to keep in mind that all red wines should be served slightly cooler than room temperature, there are certain wines that benefit from an even longer chill. Factors to consider include grape variety and winemaking technique. For example, high-acid, fruit-forward grapes like Gamay, Mencia, Frappato, Pinot Noir, and Zweigelt make for great chilled reds. Wines made with the carbonic maceration method are also prime for enjoying chilled, since this fermentation method brings out the wine’s intense fruity characteristics.
VinePair’s Tasting Methodology
Throughout the year, VinePair conducts numerous tastings for our popular Buy This Booze column, and wine and spirits reviews. Our mission is to provide a clear, reliable source of information for drinkers, providing an overview applicable to day-to-day buying and drinking.
Tastings are not typically conducted blind. In alignment with our reviews mission, we believe in purposefully tasting all products as our readers typically would, with full knowledge of the producer, the region, and — importantly — the price.