John Wilson: Lighter wines for warmer days

Don’t be afraid to chill these red wines – it brings out their fresh fruit flavours

I sat out in the garden for the first time recently; only for a short time because it was colder than it looked from inside, but it was an important first step. Some of my happiest wine moments over the past year have been sitting down, indoors or out, by myself with a book or newspaper, or with family, nibbling away on a few crackers and sipping a glass of wine. The first sip always seems to have the sweetest, purest flavours.

I may be jumping the gun a little, but with sunshine and warmer weather comes the need for lighter wines with fresh fruits and crisp acidity. I will cover white and rosé wines in the coming weeks, but this week four lighter red wines that you could drink solo or with charcuterie – serving them lightly chilled will bring out the fresh fruits too.

All four are 12.5 per cent alcohol or less and can be drunk with or without food. Ideally this style of wine should cost less than €20, but prices seem to be on the increase, possibly as a result of the pandemic.

I have a soft spot for the red wines of the Loire, including Pinot Noir. The best come from Sancerre and have an ambrosial fragrance and seductive delicate fruit

I have a soft spot for the red wines of the Loire, including Pinot Noir. The best come from Sancerre and have an ambrosial fragrance and seductive delicate fruit. Sadly, they are not cheap, but the La Roncière featured here is made by one of the leading Sancerre producers and offers value for money.


Beaujolais is one of the very best spring and summer wines of all, and I will certainly feature some in the coming months. In the meantime, passe-tout-grain (or passetoutgrain) is a Burgundian blend of Gamay, the grape used to make Beaujolais, and Pinot Noir. The wine below is made from 70 per cent Gamay and 30 per cent Pinot Noir. The result is a delightful, refreshing mix of the two varieties.

The Puszta Libre is a blend of two Austrian varieties, Sankt, Laurent and Zweigelt. The bottle and the wine are all about casual warm weather drinking. The label recommends that you “Gekhült Servieren” or serve it cold. I know that some find the idea of chilled red wine abhorrent, but cool rather than chilled will bring out so much more of the fruit.

Lastly, true Valpolicella is another great quaffing spring and summer wine. Made from the same grape varieties as Ripasso and Amarone, it is lighter in body and several degrees less in alcohol. While some may remember cheap nasty Valpolicella from times past, most of the supermarkets now have a decent inexpensive version. In addition, O’Briens has one of my favourite wines, the Rizzardi Bardolino Classico (neighbouring Valpolicella) for €14.95 and the very tasty organic Musella Valpolicella Superiore for €19.95.

La Roncière Pinot Noir 2019, Arielle Vatan, Val de Loire
12% €17
This is a lovely light Pinot with mouth-watering vivid red cherry and redcurrant fruits perked up by a fine acidity. Enjoy it with a risotto primavera or terrines, patés and cold meats. 
Stockist: Whelehan's Wines, Loughlinstown,

Puszta Libre 2020, Claus Preisinger, Austria (Organic)
11.5% €19.95-€21
Delicious fresh bouncy plum and dark fruits cut through with a lively acidity. By itself, with spring salads and charcuterie, although the acidity would be a nice foil for fatty dishes such as belly of pork or duck.
Stockists: Bradleys Off-licence, Cork,; Worldwide Wines, Waterford,; Loose Canon, D2,; Green Man Wines, D6,; 64wine, Glasthule,; Baggot Street Wines, D4,; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock,; Sweeneys D3,; Lilliput Stores, D7,; Martin's Off Licence, D3,; The Fumbally, D8;; Margadh, Howth,; Brindle Coffee & Wine, D8,; This is It, Ennistymon,

Domaine Lacour Bourgogne Passetoutgrain 2019 
12% €18.95
Light joyous juicy raspberry and strawberry fruits; the ultimate glouglou wine. By itself, or with a plate of charcuterie and cheese.
Stockists: Bradleys Off-licence, Cork,; Green Man Wines, D6,; Drinkstore, D7,; Fallon & Byrne, D2,; Le Caveau, Kilkenny,; Listons, D2,; MacGuinness Wines, Dundalk,; Redmonds, D6;;

Valpolicella 2018, Monte Tabor, Fidora, Biodynamic
12.5% €22
A stimulating elegant wine with bright pure red cherry fruits and a hint of tannin to provide grip. Try this with white meats, salumi or pasta dishes; Cacio e Pepe sounds perfect. 
Stockists: Red Nose Wines, Clonmel,; Sheridan's Cheesemongers, D2, Kells, Co Meath, Galway,; Loose Canon, D2,;; Opera Wicklow,