Contrary to popular belief, summer technically continues well into September—until, in fact, the Autumnal Equinox, which marks the official beginning of fall, not to mention the onset of harvest in many of Spain’s most acclaimed winegrowing regions.
As the days get shorter and autumn approaches, our palates naturally move away from refreshing poolside whites and rosés towards more approachable reds, even though the season doesn’t exactly call just yet for cold weather favorites like robust Ribera del Duero, rich and brawny Monstrell, or savory, earthy Rioja.
And speaking of popular belief. . . who says that all red wines have to be served at room temperature? In a year where so much is changing and evolving, it might just be time to reconsider some of our misconceptions about our favorite wines and pairings—and even our strict rules about serving styles.
More and more savvy wine lovers are embracing the idea that we often serve our whites too cold and our reds too warm—especially in times when the seasons shift or the climate is unpredictable. Chilled reds present a new opportunity for enjoyment, with cooler serving temperatures helping to accentuate the aromatics and florals of lighter-bodied varieties, round out the balance of fruit and heat in bolder blends, and altogether underscore the elegance of even the most monolithic, headstrong red.
With such dizzying versatility available when it comes to Spain’s red wine offerings, it’s easy to find a serve-at-just-below-cellar-temperature-red for September. Curious? Check out these unique native grapes to find a new favorite:
Deeply colored, often fruit-forward, and versatile in the production of anything from round, generous reds to lip-smacking rosé, Bobal is native to southeast Spain’s Utiel-Requena DO. One of the most-planted grapes in Spain and yet just now finding a fast-growing following of acolytes in America, Bobal is velvety, plush, and fruit-driven, and a slight chill can elevate it as a pairing to complement to barbecue chicken or grilled short ribs.
Think of northern Spain’s native red grape Mencia as a next level fusion of the aromatics and delicacy of Pinot Noir, with the earthy, deep personality of Cabernet Franc. Often structured and showing tart red fruit, blackberry, licorice, and gravel, this uniquely Spanish variety is heavily aromatic and pairs beautifully with roast chicken or duck.
The classic red variety of Spain’s gorgeous Canary Islands—famously grown on the dramatic volcanic island of Lanzarote—is deeply colored and shows bright red fruit, smoke, and spice. Like Beaujolais, Listán Negro is often produced using carbonic maceration, which means that the finished wine lends itself well to being chilled. For a perfect late summer night, try it with grilled lamb kabobs and wild mushroom risotto.