The glories of ultra light-bodied red wines - Your new go-to wines
You can chill them, drink them at a barbecue, or crush them on the porch. They refresh, they excite, and they are way more interesting than rosé. The fact is that this the end of Summer and beginning of Fall has been all about super light-bodied red wines. Translucent, bright, acidic, and gorgeous, we just cannot get enough of these amazing wines. They seem to hit all the right notes and we love them more and more for it. Good thing there are still a few warm Summer-esque nights, and plenty of Fall days to enjoy these wines.
Why we love the super-light red wines
It's easy to love a light-bodied red wine like Pinot Noir, they are elegant, delightful, and are able to make friends with just about anybody, anywhere. They pair with most foods (but maybe stay away from fish and oysters) and they are intriguing enough to drink by themselves. That's pretty cool, except we are not the RP generation who jumps at the sniff of Burgundy (still delicious though). Our lives are full of amazing experiences that are not dictated by wine, but rather they are lifted because of it. So we look for vins de soif, thirst quenchers that are tres glou glou.
We look for the exciting, the vibrant, the electric, and we found that in spades in the super light red wines. They fit in with our lifestyle, refreshing us, enthralling us, and making us burst out in laughter. More and more, I go to tastings fearing that somebody is going to throw a hefty Malbec at me as if to say that smoke and leather are what you need with your burger. It has all been too much. Recently I have found grapes like Pellaverga Piccolo, Schiava, and Frapatto and have found that they just make everybody smile. They are all alike, and yet so different, but one common quality that remained throughout was something I have heard too many beer drinkers describe as a quality they seek out. They are juicy! That is to say, these wines are like drinking delicious and refreshing juice without being so complicated that they feel intellectually challenging. It's just fun, a fling with your taste buds. You feel as though you could go on drinking them for hours as if you never want the flow of these gorgeous wines to end.
The light red grape, or the light red styles?
With super light bodied red wines becoming all the rage, there are winemakers who are standing up and making themselves known by providing us with these juicy vins de soif. They aim to explore more red varietals with the aim to find truly glorious wines that are honest, real, and refreshing. Some have these wines lingering in their backyards, as is the case in Südtirol in Alto Adige which has some of the most northern vineyards in Italy. How far north you ask? Well, the street names are written and, and everybody speaks, German. This is where I found Schiava. The wine is the very epitome of super light, ticking all the boxes of a wine that is meant to be enjoyed with people as much as it is with food. Light-hearted, easy going, like eating fresh picked strawberries with just a dust of tannin and a small sting on the tongue from the acidity. The wine I had, Glassier's Vernatsch, was organically farmed and the winemaker a total minimalist when it came to winemaking. There was still a haze about it, reminiscent of a juicy New England IPA, probably because the wine remained unfined and unfiltered.
Indeed many Italian regions seem to have an ultra light-bodied red wine that serves as a refresher for those who spend their days toiling in the vineyards. More often than not these wines never leave the shores of Italy, probably because their simplicity was looked down upon by discerning wine drinkers of yesteryear who adored complexity. Wines like Pellaverga Piccolo, Cieliogiolo, and Rosesse are capturing our hearts with their fresh flavors that we would never expect from other red wines. The emergence of Frapatto as a single varietal red wine from Sicily has turned the wine world on its head with its earthiness complimenting its screaming fruit flavors. Put a slight chill on them and these wines turn into a summer party starter. They seem to flow effortlessly from bottle to lips to dance moves.
France too has been a hotbed for ultra light-bodied red wines. Look no further than the mother of all juicy red wines than to Beaujolais and it's rich, almost singular love affair with the Gamay grape. A wine that epitomizes the hipster "glou glou" philosophy of drinking wines that are more about the experience rather than intellectual challenge. A number of modern French winemakers are churning out fun to drink, crushable Gamay that is happiness in a bottle. Glou de Jeff, a Beaujolais Villages from Brett Brothers, is a natural wine bombshell that adds a healthy dose of unfined and unfiltered funk to its cherry, plum, and other red fruits.
But to find some truly exceptional, lighter than light-bodied red wines that will exceed expectations then you need to look to wines from Jura. This tiny region just outside of Burgundy seeks neither fame nor fortune but is gaining both never the less. We will save that story for another time, however.
These are the wines you need in your life right now
Its a bold statement, but you seriously need these wines in your life right now. The ultra light-bodied red wines that are taking the world by storm are doing so because they are delicious and electric while still showing all the character that you would expect from the fullest of the full big bad Cabernet Sauvignons and so forth. Many of these winemakers have managed to perfect wines that entice us, keep us on the edge of our seats aching to drink more and more until there is none left. Just don’t blame us for getting hooked!