Here’s a scenario that isn’t hard to picture: it’s hot outside, the day is long, and you’re thinking about that glass of wine you’ll have when work is done. With summertime heat blazing on you, is a deep, rich glass of Cabernet Sauvignon the best choice? Do you really want a glass of red wine on a hot summer day?

We say yes. And we know a lot of you do, too.

According to a recent YouGov study, red wine is the most popular among wine-drinking adults at 69%. And of the most popular varietals of red wine, it’s almost a tie, with Cabernet Sauvignon running neck-and-neck with Merlot at 18% and 19% respectively. Pinot Noir and Zinfandel also tie for second place, at 12% each. Moreover, this study included year-around drinking habits as well, demonstrating that Cabernet remains King. Even in the summer. So if you’re looking for the best way to enjoy Cabernet for the summer—and the best Cabs you can buy for the summer—we’ve got you covered.

Summer Red Wine Is Chill

You may also be surprised to learn that more than 36% of all red wine lovers enjoy their reds chilled. Indeed, collectors know that red wine ages best in a temperature-controlled environment, typically between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature is not only best for storage, but for drinking. According to Wine Director Paola Embry of Christopher’s Restaurant, “a wine served above 66 degrees will have an impact on the overall structure of the wine such as acid, alcohol, and flavors. It will soften the structure of the wine, and the alcohol becomes significantly more noticeable.” This changes when the wine is chilled down to 55 to 60 degrees. “The flavors will become focused, the alcohol will not be as evident, and the structure will be tighter.”

This focus as a result of chilling wine is most evident in our 2018 Cultivar Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville, Napa Valley. A valley-floor Cabernet from a warmer-than-usual growing season. As such, a slightly lower temperature helps to bring out subtleties that may be masked by alcohol during the wine’s younger years.

Bottle of Cultivar 2018 Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon

Older Is Better For Summer Cabernets

Another characteristic that makes Cabernet the best red wine for summer is bottle aging. Aging allows wine to coalesce and become more balanced and integrated. For Cabernets, this results in a softening of the wine, especially with the tannins. Tannins are astringent compounds derived from both the grape and the oak barrel in which the wine is aged. Given time, these compounds soften, which allows different aromas and flavors to emerge.

At Cultivar Wine, we often allow our Cabernets to age in bottle for several years before we release them. Our 2016 Leaky Lake Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is a great example of this. With two years in the barrel and now another three years in the bottle, this wine is a marriage between boldness and finesse. The same holds true for our Caspar Estate wines. Our Caspar Estate library contains smooth, elegant vintages dating all the way back to 2008.

Another fun way to enjoy a beautifully aged Cabernets from Cultivar Wine is with a large format bottle, like a Magnum, Double Magnum, or even bigger. Large bottles are made with thicker, heavier glass, which helps protect wine from its worst enemies: heat, light, and travel-related vibrations. They’re also perfect for parties and backyard barbecues, like your upcoming 4th of July celebration.

Two bottles and two bottles of Cultivar wine

Food & Wine: The Best Thing About Red Wine For Summer

Perhaps the most obvious reason why Cabernet is the perfect summer red wine of choice is that summer is grilling season. Whether it’s 4th of July, Memorial Day, or just a Tuesday night in August, summer means steaks, fish, and veggies on the grill. Cabernet is the perfect pairing for ribeyes, lamb chops, pork loin, and even salmon. Love sauces like chimichurri? Love a good Korean BBQ glaze? That means it’s Cabernet time.

Here’s one of our favorite recipes for The Perfect Grilled Hamburger. The technique here is what makes this recipe incredible. And if it’s grilled, of course, it comes from Bobby Flay!