Though especially welcome in summertime, and especially tasty with regards to Pinot Noir, I break the “room temperature reds rule” year round and with many varietals to boot. In the depths of December you can still find me putting a slight chill on many reds, from a Beaujolais Nouveau at Thanksgiving up to some big and burly Syrahs on Valentine’s Day. I just like my reds served a little cool and find that I prefer around 50–58 °F (10–14 °C) or so, below standard room temperature.
Summertime, however, is when I’m most likely to put a red on ice. Room temperature in our ranch house in Napa doesn’t mean 68 °F (20 °C) like it does in November and as ambient temperatures rise, my tolerance for the more volatile components in red wines (i.e. alcohol, aldehydes, and volatile acidity) goes down. I find it hard to appreciate a red wine when it’s so warm, even a modest 13.8% alcohol red hits me like a ton of grapes.
My solution? Use a tabletop wine cooler, an ice bucket, one of those new stick-it-in-the-bottle gadgets like the one offered by Corkcicle™, or just simply stick the bottle in the fridge for 30 minutes. A slight chill can focus aroma, tame the perception of alcohol, and can make a red seem more refreshing, especially when the weather heats up. I hope you and your friends can come to some compromises . . . there’s nothing wrong with serving your red wines with a slight chill, and contrariwise, there’s nothing wrong with having your whites warm up slightly in the glass as you enjoy them around the table!