The Liquor Cabinet

Six Great Red Wines to Drink this Summer

Red wine fans needn’t go into hibernation this summer. Put the cabernet sauvignon away and check out the lighter reds on offer. There’s one to suit all wine tastes, and they’re more popular than ever before.

Six Great Red Wines to Drink this Summer

As the temperature starts to rise, our menus and tastes also turn a corner. Hearty meals and chunky reds are no longer the go-to options – the bold style and high alcohol of full-bodied reds are not always the best fit at this time of year. Lighter reds are taking the country by storm right now, as red wine drinkers discover they can enjoy their favourite style of wine all-year-round. Lighter reds have brighter and fresher aromas, so are perfect for casual dining, and forget room temperature – they can even handle a light chill in an ice bucket if it takes your fancy (especially on a hot day).


They’re also often lower in alcohol and tannin, making them beautifully supple and silky smooth. It’s worth noting that lighter doesn’t mean less flavour. There are plenty of lighter weight reds still beautifully and carefully packed with red fruit. They’re simply presented in a more elegant package, and made for drinking young.


When it comes to a lighter style of red, we are generally talking about wines made from red grapes with thinner skins such as grenache, pinot noir, gamay and blends. Let’s take a closer look at some easy drinking reds and when’s the perfect occasion to crack one open.

At the barbecue

Grenache is a great place to start as the barbecue invites start rolling in. This variety has long been ignored but today is rising up to produce some of the best wines in the country. If you want to give grenache a go, you can’t go past a classic like Yalumba’s Bush Vine Grenache from the Barossa Valley that are a perfect match to lamb kebabs hot off the grill. We’ve got some of the oldest grenache vines in the world here in Australia and they have been put to good use in this wine with its generous dark cherry fruits and earthy edge. Fans of imported wine can also enjoy the Chalkboard Côtes du Rhône. This blend of grenache, syrah and carignan, with its more savoury and spicier feel, has a bit more body than the Beaujolais, so it can handle your classic barbecue staples like sausages, lamb chops and any other red meat you can grill.

Bring a plate

In charge of the charcuterie and cheese plate? Then grenache is again your guy! Another style of grenache comes under the Hero of Zero label, which is preservative free. This is a fruity little number with layers of slinky raspberry and strawberry. This is what lighter reds are all about, and it’s the kind of wine that can also match the classic summer staple of cold cuts of roast chicken or left over Christmas ham.

Dinner for two

One of our favourite lighter-weight red varieties is the ever-silky pinot noir which thrives in the cooler regions of Australia and New Zealand, and is really made to be taken on ‘Date Night’. The key to great pinot noir is its perfume, which helps this variety make some of the best, and most expensive, wines in the world. James Busby Yarra Valley Pinot Noir is a good place to start. Its dark cherry and wild strawberry fruit aromas are perfect with a starting course of cured meats and olives. And if you want to go premium (you do, it’s date night), head deep south to Tasmania with Devil’s Corner. The subtle aromas of dark cherry, earth and spice make this a delicious drop, perfect with duck pancakes to share.

Sushi picnic

Red wine with fish? Well yes! If you like sushi, gamay is a surprisingly good fit. Think stronger fish that have a bit of weight to put up against its tannins, like a salmon or tuna. Europe has a long tradition of lighter, more elegant reds so heading offshore can be a good hunting ground. Beaujolais in France is, in many people’s eyes, the king when it comes to light-weight reds, and that’s all thanks to the gamay grape. This version from Joseph Drouhin has delicious, spicy, almost bubblegum flavours before it dives into a bowl of red berry fruits.

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