What makes some reds chill well while others dont? The secret is in tannin, a component from the grapes skins that gives red wines their gripping, tongue-drying texture. Chilling amplifies the effect and can make red wine seem bitter. But some softer tannic wines (ones with a less intense and lower amount of tannins) actually benefit from chilling, because it pumps up their fruitiness and makes them even more refreshing. Theres nothing on the label to tell you whether a wine is suitable for chilling; you just need to know what varietals to look for. Here are the best.
For pork, poultry, salmon, and other light meals:
A subtle, earthy, elegant option is Pinot Noir. Firesteed 2006 ($16) from Oregon takes on a snappy cranberry-cherry flavor when chilled.
For spicier grilled fare such as barbecue or sausage:
French Beaujolais-Villages such as Georges Dubœuf ($12) or Louis Jadot ($12) are grapey and juicy.
For steaks and burgers:
Chill a California Zinfandel like the dark berry–flavored Rancho Zabaco Dry Creek Valley ($24).