JoAnn LoGiurato is a Certified Wine Specialist and the owner of Dancing on Grapes.
Deck parties, outdoor picnics, grillin’ and chillin’…. summer is definitely upon us, and so is the summer wine dilemma. What to drink now? Hmm, many people believe that summer is all about white—au contraire! Here are 11 of my favorite wine sips for summer, including a couple of delicious reds and a rosé for those not afraid to “drink pink.” All of them are available at one of your favorite Fairfield County wine shops. If you can’t find the exact wine you’re looking for, ask the merchant to show you something similar—heck, it’s just fermented grape juice. Taste, experiment, and have fun with it!
Abandon the Chardonnay for Pinot Gris or Vermentino. Both of these whites offer a wine that has great “mouth feel,” coating your mouth with loads of tropical fruit or fresh nectarine and peach flavors, and soft acidity. Try an Italian Vermentino from sun-baked Sardinia or rugged, coastal Tuscany. Or enjoy a luscious, aromatic Pinot Gris from warm weather California or cooler climate, Oregon. These are great wines for sipping or with your favorite swordfish, grilled shrimp, or Asian chicken recipe.
If you enjoy Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, why not try a juicy, Spanish Verdejo or aromatic Argentinean Torrontes? Drink these wines chilled with summer picnic fare, and understand why they are so popular with food in their native lands. These wines simply scream “ summer deck party” and are great crowd pleasers.
You may know plummy Merlot works well with sticky, sweet barbequed ribs, but try that finger-licking good barbeque with Spanish Garnacha and you’ll open your eyes (and mouth) to a wine that delivers BIG flavor (cherry with hints of chocolate) and incredible value. Serve slightly chilled for a real red wine treat.
If you’re a fan of Pinot Noir, why not try Cru Beaujolais? Both of these wines have their roots in France’s Burgundy region. Cru Beaujolais is so much more than the “simple wine” called Beaujolais Nouveau served around Thanksgiving. Brouilly is the largest area of the “cru” region. It’s named after a volcano. This wine has heady aromas of red fruit and plums. It’s light, fruity, floral-- and really shines with a slight chill-- making it the perfect companion to a summer picnic in the park or on the beach.
One of my favorite Italian reds for summer is Dolcetto d’Alba. Dolcetto has the perfume of violets and the flavor of juicy strawberries and cherries. This is a perfect wine for fried chicken or simply grilled pork tenderloins paired with a berry fruit sauce.
I always look forward to tasting the new shipment of rosés that hit the wine shops in spring and summer. When it’s just too hot to drink heavy reds, and you want a wine with depth, crispness, and great flavor to stand up to a grilled tuna steak or summer salads, break out the rosé and pretend you’re on the beach in the south of France or an outdoor café in Europe. Don’t be afraid to drink pink. Be sure to ask your wine merchant for a dry rosé, and you may be pleasantly surprised at how you much you like it during these dog days of summer!
I’ve listed the names of some specific wines and where they may be purchased. You can find many of these wines in your favorite local wine shop. Just ask the merchant to help you find them.
2009 Ponzi Pinot Gris, Willamette, Oregon ($15.99)
2009 King Estates “Acrobat” Pinot Gris, ($13.99), Vintage Fine Wines and Spirits, Wilton
2009 Terre de Talmo “Vento” Vermentino, Tuscany, Italy ($15.99) Stew Leonard’s Wines, Norwalk & Danbury
2009 Michel Torino “Don David” Torrontes, Argentina ($16.99)—Fairgrounds Liquor, Danbury; Stew Leonard’s Wines, Danbury & Norwalk
2009 Paso a Paso Verdejo ($8.99) or Naia Verdejo ($13.99) Stew Leonard’s Wines, Norwalk; Vintage Fine Wines, Greenwich & Wilton
2009 Bodegas Borsao Campo de Borja Grenacha, Spain ($7.99)
Harry’s Wine and Spirits, Fairfield, and other wine shops.
2009 George Dubeouf “Brouilly”, flower label, Beaujolais, France ($17.99) Bev Max, Stamford; Stew Leonard’s Wines Norwalk
2009 Chateau de la Chaize Brouilly, Beaujolais, France ($13.99) Turnpike Spirit shop and Wine Emporium, Fairfield
2008 Vietti Dolcetto d’ Alba, Piedmont, Italy ($19.99) International Wine Shop, Westport, CT
2010 Terre di Talmo “Piano Piano” Rosato, Tuscany, Italy ($12.99) Caraluzzi’s Wine and Spirits, Bethel; Stew Leonard’s Wines, Norwalk & Danbury
2010 Commanderie de Peyressol Rose, Provence, France ($18.99)
Ancona’s Wine and Spirits, Ridgefield & Wilton