Six red wines made for summer days

With summer almost upon us, David Kermode selects six red wines that are perfect for drinking in the warmest months. Just make sure you have your cooler to hand

Words by David Kermode

Best red wines for summer cover image

Thinking about the best red wines for summer may not feel instinctive as the weather begins to heat up. The appearance of sunshine and the welcome departure of that brisk spring wind mean that whites and rosés are on our minds as we charge outside to make the most of the brightest, warmest months. But when it comes to the first of the summer wine, a fresh, crunchy red, maybe even a chilled red, can often be perfectly suited to a lunch or supper in the sun, especially if it involves a barbecue.

And now summer is, indeed, almost upon us, with the longest day of the year less than a month away. The stage is being set at Glastonbury, the Wimbledon grass will soon have its final trim, the sails are being unfolded for Cowes Week and thoughts are naturally turning to the location of the wine cooler. But my advice is to keep it to hand for all the wines you will drink, including the reds.

At the right temperature, there are relatively few red wines that I wouldn’t serve on a summer’s day

The cardinal rule of summer entertaining should be attention to serving temperature: any wine, whatever its colour, will fall apart if it is served too warm. This is well understood when it comes to white or rosé, of course, yet too often a red will be left to sit on a table stewing in the afternoon sunshine, the sum becoming less than its parts as the fruit bakes, the alcohol drifts to the fore and the tannins make their own declaration of independence. To make the most of the best red wines in summer, the complex ones need to be served at cellar temperature, at close to 12°C, rather than given the same chill as a white, while fresh and fruity examples will be a revelation after half an hour or so in the fridge. Once on the table, they should usually be kept in that cooler, rather than in the ice bucket, retaining freshness without freezing the fruit.

At the right temperature, there are relatively few red wines that I wouldn’t serve on a summer’s day, most especially if meat, pasta or pizza are on the menu, so here are six suggestions, from fruity and fresh to fulsome and full-bodied.

Six of the best reds for summer


Azienda Agricola Cortese, Nostru Frappato, 2022

Summer pudding in a bottle, Frappato is a Sicilian seasonal sensation, with a perfumed charm and punnets of crunchy cherry, berry character. This delicious example comes from an organic pioneer, using a clone of the grape variety that was nurtured on the estate, near Vittoria. Perfectly balanced, with cranberry acidity, focused fruit, silky smooth tannins and a gentle streak of wet stone, this calls for grilled prawns or penne pasta with a simple sauce of basil and freshly harvested tomatoes.

£13, N.D. John



Bleasdale Vineyards, Cabernet Franc, 2022

A bright crimson red from Australia’s second oldest family estate on the fertile volcanic soils of Langhorne Creek, this is a fabulous, fridge-tastic, fruit bomb. On the nose it serves up blueberries, raspberries, rose petals and lily stamens, while the palate is generously endowed with fruity freshness, vibrant acidity and soft, smooth tannins. Deserving of a really good chill, it’s dangerously gluggable on its own but the perfect partner for pizza.

£17.99 or £13.99 when you buy six, Laithwaites

Domaine Filliatreau

Domaine Filliatreau, Saumur Champigny ‘Vieilles Vignes’, 2018

Bountiful, faintly smoky dark brooding berry fruit is complemented by hints of sundried herbs in this powerful, yet still racy, Cabernet Franc, produced from octogenarian vines in Saumur. This has plenty of complexity and depth, so it can take a bit of a chill and would be a match for barbecued lamb.

£30, Shrine to the Vine

Chateau du moulin-a-vent

Château du Moulin-à-Vent, Moulin-à-Vent, 2020

Beaujolais is undoubtedly a wine for the season because Gamay lends itself to a light chill but it is well worth seeking out complex, terroir-driven examples from one of the region’s ten ‘crus’, with my personal favourite being Moulin-à-Vent. One hundred years old this year, this cru’s fortunes are on the rise once more, celebrated for wines with food-friendly fruit complexity and a serious mineral undertow. This textbook example offers seductive strawberries and cherries, with lifted notes of dried rosemary, all underpinned by a cool, calming wet stone minerality. Try this with chicken and mushroom kebabs.

£27.95, The Fine Wine Company

Craggy Range

Craggy Range, Te Muna Road Vineyard, Pinot Noir,  2022

From the relatively cool 2022 vintage, this delicious Hawke’s Bay Pinot Noir, from seven different clones, entices with foraged blackberries lifted by sweet scents of lavender and hibiscus tea. There’s some cherry crunch to the generous but sleek mid palate and a subtle, intriguing mushroom complexity. Served with a gentle chill this would suit a summer salad of grilled haloumi and aubergine with pomegranate.

£29.99 or £25.99 when you buy six, Majestic

Mt. Brave

Mount Brave, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2019

The finest fillet steak, grilled over hot coals, demands a wine of similar stature, so head into the hills of Mount Veeder, the largest appellation in Napa stretching over 15,000 acres, where just a thousand are planted to vine. This beautiful Bordeaux-style blend has power and precision, a veritable feast of blueberries, blackberries and morello cherries, star anise, cinnamon spice and dark chocolate, perfectly balanced by a red-fruit acid line to cut through the smoky, singed meat.

£125, London End Wines