Cool Summer Wine Recommendations
Summer's here and the livin’ is easy ….or should be. But with such amazing choice in the stores picking the perfect wine can seem far from easy. Whether you are planning a gourmet picnic, a trip to the beach or a camping expedition, here are a few tips to pick the perfect bottle (or can!).
Keep it simple
A picnic isn’t the place for a priceless bottle of Château Snob 1966 –- you don’t need anything expensive and you certainly don’t want mature (old tasting) wines. Fun in the sun requires young, fresh, vibrant fruit-driven wines.
Keep it low
Nor do you want blockbusters with huge amounts of oak and alcohol. For a long, lazy day in the sun you need to pace yourself – drink plenty of water and stick to lighter bodied, unoaked wines with a low ABV – and put on a cap!
Keep it light
Wine bottles are heavy, breakable, can be difficult to open and once open easy to spill on uneven ground. Ahead of time decant your wines into clean, empty plastic bottles. Less weight means you can carry more! Invest in a set of Duralex tumblers – your wines taste better and no plastic/paper cup waste. Also consider wine cans and boxes. They don’t can Château Latour ….yet, but the only thing holding back the wine can is the quality of wine they put into them and they are super convenient for impromptu picnics (you don’t even need a glass). You can now get good quality wine boxes. These keep wine fresh if you want to have one glass today and another in a week, but really come into their own for camping trips as they are virtually unbreakable and much lighter than glass.
Keep it cool
Warm wine just isn’t a good look on any summer picnic. Of course, whites, rosés and sparkling wines taste better cold, but also certain light reds chill well (see below). Take a cool bag and fill it with ice cubes. If you have decanted into plastic bottles with screw lids there is no danger of the water/ice invading the wine when inevitably the bottle falls over.
Corkscrew’s recommended summer wines:
Bubbles are great in the sun – but there is nothing worse than lukewarm fizz– make sure you keep the bottle well iced. Domaine Chandon Brut Classic ($16.87 Walmart) is a sparkling wine from California produced by Moet & Chandon, who make some of the most expensive Champagnes in the world. Made from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier using the traditional method this wine comes pretty close to ‘the real thing’. Rich sparkling wines like this are great with smoked salmon, creamy cheeses like Brie and cold chicken.
Summer whites need to be light and fresh with zippy acidity. Urki Blanco Txakolina ($14.99 Whole Foods) is an unusual, delicious, spritzy, light white weighing in at only 11% ABV. It hails from Spain’s Basque Country where they pour it from a height to maximize its natural effervescence – a fun outdoor party trick! Great with fish, quiche, Spanish omelet or goats cheese. A boxed alternative is La Petite Frog Picpoul de Pinet ($29.99 3L Total Wine). Terrible name, but great summer wine from the Languedoc in southern France. Picpoul is light and citrusy with a slight herbal edge. Great without food, but will also match up well with salads, chicken and creamy pasta dishes.
Rosé wines are in fact very light red wines – so heavier than white means and work with stronger foods Château de Berne Inspiration Rosé Côtes de Provence ($8.99 Costco). This is a really fresh, light rosé from Provence made from juicy Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah grapes. This wine is great with spicy sausage like merguez or chorizo, grilled red meats (especially lamb) and meaty fish like swordfish or red mullet.
Big, rich red wines taste bitter and chalky served cold – and served warm and soupy on a hot summers day are vile. However a light, fruity red like Beaujolais from eastern France is great from the fridge. It is important that you find a young, fresh wine and 2018 Louis Jadot Beaujolais ($11.99 Target) is a lush, fruit bomb that has just landed in store. Great with cold roast beef, coarse patés and hard cheeses like Cheddar. A canned alternative is Underwood Oregon Pinot Noir ($5.99 Safeway). This silky Pinot Noir will also taste good slightly chilled with steak, burgers or grilled tuna.
Sweet food and dry wines just don’t work. Saracco Moscato d'Asti 2018 ($17.99 BevMo!) from Piedmont in north Italy is a deliciously sweet and frothy wine with flavours of grapes and honey. Lighter than air it is the perfect accompaniment to most summer desserts including strawberries and cream, meringues, chocolate mousse and will even work with ice cream.
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