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Summer Kick Off Wines

Summer is upon most of us here in New England. Grilling season is officially underway unless you're one of those year rounders who tend to the grills in your winter parkas. With the seasonal change in temperatures, warm days and cool nights, do you change up your drink of choice? Aside from the weather, do you change yup your style of vino with the bounty of new seasonal veggies and foodie options to slap down on the hot charcoal?

Here's a few options outside of the norm whether your norm is an ice cold Pinot Grigio or Sauvvy Blanc to the good ole red and blue of Budweiser...again we're not here to pass judgement. Drink what you like.

Nothing tastes better than a cold anything (insert your fav) but chilled red wines?

Is that the face you just made? I'm not talking about dropping ice cubes into a glass of some cult Napa Cab Sauv, but if that's your style then who are we all to tell you differently? Some wines benefit from a visit to the refrigerator or cooler for a slight cool down. When I say "chillable reds" please do not confuse that with the Franzia boxed wine...step away from the Franzia.

Yes absolutely chill certain red wines down and you'll experience the benefits immediately.

So what wines fall into this category and why? Starters, you're subbing out chewy tannins and overbearing oak for bright acidity, alcohol levels under 13 percent and a juicy core of fruit. And as luck would have it, this combination provides the perfect accompaniment to anything charred on the grill, from burgers and hot dogs to fish and veggies.

  • Zweigelt from Austria with a slight chill pairs with anything doused in barbecue sauce. Its acidity will help tame the condiment’s sweetness. Pictured is the Blauer Zweigelt, the bottle with the boar on it. Totally crushable chilled.

Barbera from Piedmont Italy served chilled alongside a bowl of pasta or a slice of pizza, and its fresh tomato flavors are accentuated when the wine is allowed to cool down for a period of time. Our choice is the Cantine Valpane from rock star importer Kermit Lynch. Most wine lovers in CT know of Kermit's French portfolio of vini, but there is also a small amount of his Italian portfolio available. We carry several varieties. Gamay from Beaujolais. Due to the lean nature of Beaujolais, some of its flavors can remain relatively muted when served without any chill. 15-20 minutes in the refrigerator, and the fresh, sour cherry characteristics of Beaujolais and the Gamay grape are allowed to shine! We have two picks in this category. First is this Moulin A Vent from Le Meurger that on it's own is light as a feather with those earthy tart cherry notes, soft tannins. Great sipper. Then from the region of Saint-Pourçain ( halfway between Loire and Auvergne) is a Gamay and Pinot Noir sipper called La Ficelle de Saint-Pourçain. If you have not tried this elegant red then now is the perfect time when that Fahrenheit starts to go up. Cab Franc from Chinon in the Loire Valley. Medium-bodied wines like Cabernet Franc can pair with a wide variety of foods due to their natural high acidity and slightly reduced tannin making this grape a prime candidate for a dip in the cold box. Pair it with tomato-based dishes, vinegar-based sauces and smoky BBQ 😋🍷 Monmousseau is one of the best valued Chinon on the market.

Obvious choices for summer wine sipping would be white varietals, but let's look at other styles beyond Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Sauv Blanc.

  • Gruner Veltliner & Picpoul de Pinet (pronounced "grooner" & “peek pool”) grapes make zingy, super-refreshing whites such as this citrusy, mineral-rich wines. Both are very clean and mineral driven and do really well with more aggressive flavor profiles such as artichokes, brussels, broccoli and peppers.

  • Torrontes is the dominant white grape in Argentina. Look for notes of citrus, a garden of white florals, and mild peach and tropical fruit flavors. And then pour another glass and look again.

  • Vermentino or Rolle Blanc in France or Vermentinu from Corsica (bottom center bottle) can be deliciously complex in taste in similar style to Sauvignon Blanc. Corsica produces amazing Vermentino wines (called Vermentinu), which offer high acidity with lean minerality and subtle smokiness similar to Pouilly Fume at a fraction of the cost. Go to pairings would be anything with heavy herbal rubs, fresh pesto, grilled veggies and seafood or chicken dishes.

  • Cotes de Gascogne is a wine region of France located between Bordeaux and the border with Spain, in what is collectively referred to as “South West France." The grapes utilized are Colombard, Ugni Blanc (known as Trebbiano in Italy), and Gros Manseng, along with international varieties like Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. The wines created from those varietals produce a fresh acidity, yet crisp and refreshing style of white wine. These wines are light bodied, with citrus and tropical fruit flavors. They are great for summer and pair well with fish, seafood and summer salads.

YES WAY to the ROSE!

Pink wine is all the rage beginning now until Labor Day. As the entire wine drinking world becomes more comfortable with drinking pink wines and realizing that they are not all sweet we stretch out that time frame more and more. Before you know it, it will be totally acceptable to have a Rose wine on the Thanksgiving day table.

What to look for...

  • Reputable regions and producers. Because of the "it" factor everyone is making and cashing their checks on a freaking Rose from celebrities to social media "influencers" to mega acre vineyard property owners which translates into there are a ton of hot garbage Rose wine flooding the market.

  • Don't be scared of previous vintages. Yes, Rose should be drunk young, but do not fear a Rose with a year of age on it. Currently the market is flooded with 2018 Rose (it's 2019 as of the writing) but the 2017's are drinking fantastically and at a tremendous savings.

  • The darker the pink does not mean it's sweeter nor does lighter mean drier. Try Rose from everywhere and every shade to determine what style suits your palate.

  • Expensive doesn't mean its a guarantee that you'll like it. Whispering Angel is probably one of the more well known Rose on the market and commands a relatively high price point. Try it once and determine if it's your style then seek out other lesser known producers in the same wine region vicinity for bargains.

Remember when it was an absolute horror when we saw wines with screw tops? Flash forward to today and if you're at a picnic without a corkscrew you'll be swearing up and down at the winemaker for not making a screw cap version. More and more producers are canning. Again, I believe that wine makers take hints from the beer world, example: bourbon barrel aged wines (sigh). Think about the benefits of canning wine. Portable, no light, no corkscrew needed and no chance of a corked can. I mean, c'mon the possibilities are endless. Like Rose, the market is being flooded with canned wine. Seek out reputable producers. Merf and 14 Hands fall under the Chateau Ste Michelle/Columbia Crest brand so I trust them. Scarpetta is even canning Lambrusco which excites the hell out of me to get more people to drink the fizzy red wine.

If all else fails to please, make a festive sangria or pour one of these beauties. Copla is all organic, slightly frizzante like Vinho Verde, low 9% ABV making it totally crushable summer wine and clocks in at a whopping $10. I will be downing these each Sunday that I am off because they are just that good. Nice fruit without being sweet. The added fizz makes it refreshing for me especially after mowing the lawn. If you opt to make your own Sangria from scratch then skip looking up a recipe. Much like making a huge pot of minest soup, Sangria is something you make to your liking and style. Whether white, red or pink, I chop up some watermelon, add blueberries for color and dump everything into one of those big clear plastic beverage dispensers, hit it with some club soda and ginger ale before serving for fizz and it's a hit.

Whatever you decide to pop in that glass while hanging out on the deck or poolside we'd love to hear about it. Drop us an email or post it to one of our social media pages. Share what you're cooking/eating with it as well.

As always, drink and grill responsibly!

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