Carbonic Sangiovese and the Growing Niche for Chilled Reds

Our Chilled Red Wine Program

Carbonic Sangiovese stirs up a bit of controversy.  When presented as a cold, more substantial alternative to Rose, people often fall in love with the cherry fruit purity and light, refreshing finish.  When people pop the cork expecting a rich, coating, more traditional California red – especially if the bottle is at summertime room temperature – reactions become mixed, often negative.


On the wholesale level, the wine takes more effort as it must be explained.  Only those sommeliers and retailers willing to educate consumers on this relatively unusual style of wine choose to carry the product.  Often, those establishments become ardent supporters.


Where chilled red wine is the norm

Recently touring through southern Italy, I was thrilled to be presented with red wines already dripping with condensation.  Some wine lists even had a category within the red section listed as leggero – literally translating to “lightweight”.  I find these red wines extremely pleasurable in the heat of summer and they’re usually my first choice, whether it’s Carbonic Sangiovese, Gamay, or anything in the ballpark – in this case, mainly obscure Italian varietals. IMG_2482


The new wave of boutique Italian winemakers chiefly promote the lighter, chilled red wine style.  These winemakers often champion lesser known and endangered indigenous varietals.  Often, past generations abandoned these grapes for the very reason that they produce lighter, rustic wines less competitive on the global red wine market.


Pick my Battles

Some folks like what they like and that’s it.  Macho men brag about drinking Napa Cab poolside all summer.  I just hope they manage to keep their heavy reds cool, perhaps floating in the pool?

Even those of us with an open mind sometimes crave a bolder red in the summertime.  Importer Kermit Lynch just posted an article Drink Bandol Cool recommending serving one of the richest red wines in France, Bandol Rouge, chilled. Our host in Rome, wine educator Hande Leimer, kept our white wine ice bucket on hand throughout our meal together.  She ensured the reds remained at that exact, magical temperature of maximum deliciousness.


Where it’s just too hot for Dark Pink there’s always Light Pink

Way down in Southern Puglia, sommeliers admit that locals regularly prefer rose.  Red wines are exported.  One Puglian chef paired a red Negroamaro-based pasta sauce with a Negroamaro rose wine.


No doubt worldwide demand for Rose is at an unprecedented level.  The chilled subcategory of red wine will continue to be a less understood niche, although one I’m proud to be part of!