When the weather gets hot, sometimes people feel very limited by the wines they can drink. White wines are typically a “go to” since they can be served chilled. However, Rose wines can make an excellent option as well as lighter style reds. This past week I was at the Cornell Club in New York City talking about this very subject. It was a great tasting with around 50 very interactive people. We covered not only summer wine styles but went into wine an food pairing, the reasons for ancient cultures’ additions of wine to water as well as my current views on the challenges of marketing wine in Asia. I won’t go into the full discussion here but I will tell you.
Ruffino Prosecco, NV, Italy – Light and Bubbly
This is a great go to wine for the summer. It is reasonably priced, deliciously crisp, and has a light body that even the most discerning of wine drinkers will enjoy on a hot day. It also works well for those summer cocktails that call for something bubbly.
Ravines Dry Riesling, 2014, Finger Lakes, NY – Stone and Chalk
This is one of my favorite Rieslings from the Finger Lakes. Bright acid and a dry palate make this wine perfect for humid summer night sipping. The aromatics are very minerally and the fruit shows up on the palate as a mix of tropical and stone fruit.
Etude Rose of Pinot Noir, 2014, Carneros, CA – Zesty and Fruity
This rose comes from one of my favorite Pinot Noir vineyards in California, Grace Benoist Ranch. I was fortunate enough to make wine from this vineyard in 2010 although it didn’t end up getting in a bottle by itself. This rose is full bodied with crisp acid and lovely flavors of ripe strawberries and peaches. It is a great wine for a meatier summer dish that would be too savory for a white wine but when a red would be too heavy.
Christophe Pacalet Fleurie, 2013, Beaujolais Cru, France – Elegant and Floral
Beaujolais some times gets a bad rap because of the Nouveau phenomenon however many of the Cru level producers are turning out very respectable wines that are delicious in the summer with a light chill on them. The tannins on this wine are soft and supple with a light palate and floral nose.
Cooper’s Creek Pinot Noir, 2013, Hawk’s Bay, New Zealand – Elegant and Floral
This was a surprising wine. Of all the regions within New Zealand, Hawk’s Bay would be my last pick for Pinot Noir. It is considered a warm spot in a cool climate ideally suited for Bordeaux varieties and Syrah, particularly from the Gimblett Gravels area. However, high up in the hills, there are Pinot Noir growers who are working with this variety at high altitudes. It is very similar in style to Carneros with dark, juicy fruit and moderate acid for a Pinot Noir which tends to be higher overall as a variety. The soft tannins also allowed it to take a slight chill for the tasting without losing any of the complexity of the wine.
Finally, one can not really talk about things to drink in the summer time without talking about Beer! I was on vacation in the Poconos, where I spent the rest of the week while not in NYC, and nearby was this fantastic Craft Brewery called Shawnee Craft. I became quite enchanted with their Biere Blanche, an unfiltered “Belgian-style wheat beer” with a citrusy nose and wheat driven palate. They also had live music on Friday night that consisted of a talented guitarist with moderate singing ability and two percussionists, making for a lively jam session.
I miss the beer. Perhaps they ship?