So, it’s summer time. Ok, half way through summer, but still. Close enough.
I don’t know about you, but I still like to have a glass of wine now and again in the summer; but I just don’t want the same thing I do in the cooler months. I find myself leaning towards lighter wines. Often with a lower alcohol content, sometimes a little sweeter (though not always!), maybe bubbly, but most especially something meant to be served chilled. I’m talking about Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé, Riesling, and Prosecco, baby! Though there’s always a place in my glass for a great red; and there certainly are some just right for summer as well, this time we’re focusing on summer’s darlings. Anyhow, I figure I’m not the only one looking for something a little different in a summer wine; so I decided we might need a list. Better yet a really big list! So, uh, I compiled a list.
Now without further adieu, (drum roll please…) in no particular order, (Ok, actually there is an order. I organized by wine, and then by price, hopefully making it simple to find a few good choices to fit your personal summer wine needs.) 50 Marvelous Wines For Summer (because 50 is such a nice even number, but still a properly hefty list):
“Sauvignon Blanc has always been a love-hate proposition, much like cilantro or beets. Some people adore it, and some people flat-out can’t stand it. What captivates people about Sauvignon Blanc is its crispness, its citrusy zing, its refreshing vivacity—all those qualities that make it one of the best wines for hot summer days.” (Ray Isle, Best Sauvignon Blancs for Fans & Skeptics via Food & Wine online)
- Sauvignon Blanc, is a green skinned grape that originated in the Bordeaux region of France; though today it is grown all around the world including, Chile, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Washington and California, as well as it’s native France.
- Sauvignon Blanc, produces a white wine that is often characterized as crisp or fresh, making it a great choice for summer.
- However, like any other grape, the flavors of the wine it produces can vary drastically depending on growing conditions. Sauvignon Blancs can easily range from off dry to aggressively sweet. Flavors can include grapefruit, peach, citrus, fig, among other fruits; or even grassy, vegetal, or herb notes. (Those grassy, vegetable, and herby flavors are why Isles says that Sauvignon Blanc is so polarizing.)
- Sauvignon blanc is most commonly served slightly chilled.
- These wines pair especially nicely with cheese, seafood, sushi, chicken. Sauvignon Blanc makes a particularly nice aperitif.
- You may find some Sauvignon Blancs labeled Fume Blanc. Robert Mondavi Winery is credited with coining this name in an attempt to help popularize the wine.
- Yellow Tail Sauvignon Blanc, $6
- Los Vascos Sauvignon Blanc 2014, $10
- Giesen Sauvignon Blanc 2014, $11
- The Crossings 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, $15
- Chateau Ste. Michelle Horse Heaven Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2013, $17
- Kim Crawford 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, $18
- Frog’s Leap Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2014, $18
- Rachis 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, $23
- Matt Iaconis Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc + Semillon 2013, $23
- Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2014, $26
- Villebois Sauvignon Blanc 2012, $26
- Lay of the Land Sauvignon Blanc 2013, $27
“First and foremost: There’s no shame in drinking pink wine. Compared with its red and white cousins, rosé wine still takes a preposterous amount of sass from wine snobs and noobs alike. Rosé haters are either a) sad and ignorant enough to think that “pink is for girls,” or b) individuals who were exposed at a young and impressionable age to white zinfandel (a sugary, mass-produced excuse for wine that rose to power in 1970s California) or pink André (basically champagne-flavored soda). Sure, there’s crappy rosé out there, but there’s also crappy everything else. Skip the gallon-size jug of pink dishwater and you’ll be fine.” (Rachel Sanders ,The Only 8 Things You Need To Know About Rosé via BuzzFeed)
Doesn’t that pretty much say everything?
- Rosé is a wine that uses some of the color from the grape skins in the wine; though not enough to it qualify as a red wine. Hence, the coloring of Rosé can vary, from almost orangey in color to a pale pink to almost purple.
- Rosé wines are not varietal (a varietal wine is a wine made primarily from a single named grape variety); but instead are made from all different varieties of grapes from all over the world.
- As so many different types of grapes can be used to make Rosé, you can find almost endless flavor profiles.
- Rosé runs the whole gamut all the way from bone-dry to blush to dessert wine levels of very sweet. Rosé may be still, semi-sparkling or even sparkling.
- In Provence, France, Rosé is the wine for summer. In fact, Rosé wine accounts for more than half of the production of Provençal wine; and possibly because it’s so abundance, or maybe just because it is perfect for summer, it’s pretty much paired with everything.
- Rosé is generally served chilled.
- Due to the wide variety in flavors that can be found in Rosé you can find a pairing that would complement pretty much anything you’d want to serve.
- Rosé is also known as rosado in many Spanish-speaking countries and rosato in Italy.
- Chivite Gran Feudo Navarra Rosado (Rosé) 2010, $9
- Heliotrope Winery Red Moscato (Rosé) 2012, $10
- Marqués de Cáceres Rioja Rosé 2010, $10
- Goats do Roam Rosé 2010, $10
- Las Rocas Garnacha Rosé 2012, $12
- Yalumba Y Series Sangiovese Rosé 2013, $12
- Graham Beck Brut Rosé, South Africa, $14
- Sierra Cantabria Rosado 2013, $14
- 88 Château du Galoupet Le Galoupet Rosé 2013, $15
- Sophora Sparkling Rose (Sparkling), $15
- NV Codorníu Pinot Noir Brut Rosé (Sparkling), $15
- Garbó Rosé 2014, $19
- Miraval Rose 2014, $22
- Domaine Houchart Rosé 2013, $20
- 92 Domaine des Diables Bonbon Rosé 2013, $20
- Inman Family Endless Crush Rose of Pinot Noir (Rosé) 2013, $25
Pink Moscato / Moscato Rosé
- I’m more or less lumping the Pink Moscato in with the Rosé; though, Moscatos (including those of the pink variety) are produced specifically from the Muscat family of grapes which include over 200 grape varieties.
- Various Muscat grape varieties can produce both red and white wines as well.
- Muscat grapes frequently have a pronounced sweetness and floral scent; so you can often expect Pink Moscato or Moscato Rosé to run on the sweet side.
- Serve chilled.
- Pair with sweet or spicy dishes, dessert, or as a stand alone dessert wine.
- You may see the a variety of names for wines produced with Muscat grapes including Moscato, Muscat, Pink Moscato, Moscato Rosé.
- Innocent Bystander Pink Moscato 2011, $10
- Rose ‘N’ Blum Bubbly Moscato Rosé 2012, $11 (Light, sweet, and fun! Don’t be deterred by the silly name, this is one of my favorites when I want something cool and sweet.)
“Riesling, a great white grape that suffers from several misconceptions: First, that all of it is sweet (it isn’t), second, that it all comes from Germany (it doesn’t, though Germany is undoubtedly Riesling’s homeland), and third, that it’s weird and you’d be better off buying Chardonnay (definitely not). The truth is that Riesling can be anywhere from bone-dry to dessert-style sweet. No matter what, though, it tends to have brilliant acidity—a tartness that wakes up your tongue, and in the case of sweeter Rieslings, keeps the wine from becoming cloying or sugary (acidity actually lowers your tongue’s perception of sweetness; think of how boring a Key lime pie would be if it weren’t tart).” (Ray Isles, 5 Ways to Celebrate the Summer of Riesling, via Food & Wine online.)
- Riesling is a white grape that hales from the Rhine region of Germany, though it is also grown in other places including (but certainly not limited to) Austria, northern Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, China, Washington, and California. (I’m of the opinion that Washington has produced a number of spectacular Rieslings!)
- The Riesling grape can produce dry, semi-sweet, sweet, and sparkling white wines; though the sweeter Rieslings are perhaps best known, at least in the US, as Ray Isles notes.
- Like Rosé, less experienced wine drinkers may turn up their noses at a Riesling thinking it unsophisticated due to it’s potentially sweeter flavor profile. And certainly Rieslings are often characterized by a strong fruity flavor, with peach, citrus, and honey. However, many Rieslings are quite complex and well balanced with a sharp acidity and mineral notes, and can be extremely sophisticated wines.
- Serve this wine chilled.
- Pair dry Rieslings with anything you might pair a Sauvignon Blanc with like cheese, seafood, sushi, chicken. Sweet Rieslings are excellent for spicy food, with dessert, or even as a stand alone dessert wine. Though, a Riesling with a stronger acidity can easily hold up to all kinds of unconventional pairings, so don’t be afraid to step outside the box.
- Chateau Ste. Michelle Harvest Select Sweet Riesling 2013, $10
- Pacific Rim Dry Riesling 2012, $11
- Pacific Rim Riesling 2012 $11
- Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek Vineyard Riesling 2013, $15
- J. Lohr Bay Mist White Riesling 2013, $10
- A to Z Riesling 2014, $16
- Dr. Loosen Blue Slate Estate Kabinett 2014, $19 (One of my personal favorites!)
- Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen Eroica Riesling 2009, $20
- Dr. Loosen Erdener Treppchen Kabinett 2013, $28
Those in Provence France may have their Rosé… but Italy has an equally delightful answer to the summer wine question: Prosecco. Or as Eric Asimov of The New York Times Dining and Wine says in his article A Sip, a Smile, A Cheery Fizz,”Not that I have anything against air-conditioning on a scorching day, but drinking prosecco is more like the gentle cooling of a rippling breeze, always leaving you wanting more. It’s almost meant to be consumed outdoors in the heat or the shade, partly because it’s low in alcohol, generally under 12 percent. It’s refreshment, and it’s stylish, too. Millions of Italians can’t be wrong about that.”
- Prosecco is a white sparkling wine, which is made from Glera grapes.
- Other grapes such as pinot bianco, pinot grigio or chardonnay, may be mixed in small percentages with the Glera.
- Prosecco can be anything from extra dry to sweet. (From dries to sweetest: Brut Nature, Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry or Extra Sec/Extra Seco, Dry or Sec/Seco, Demi-sec or Semi-seco, and Doux or Dulce)
- Peach, grapefruit, other citrus, honeydew, lemon, apple, among other fruits may put in a appearance with Prosecco.
- Prosecco is served chilled.
- In Italy Prosecco is paired with everything. Outside Italy it is often served as an apéritif, though in more recent years it has become quite the rage in the US as a go-to-pair-with-anything summer wine. (And really, can you blame the Italians? Isn’t everything just more fun with bubbles?)
- Most Prosecco is at its best when consumed within three years of its vintage.
- Pair an inexpensive Prosecco with peach juice for Venice’s signature cocktail the Bellini.
- Any Prosecco labeled D.O.C. is the really deal, imported from Italy. To earn the D.O.C. label the grapes must come from the area between Valdobbiadene and Conegliano in the Veneto. Plus the wine must be made of at least 85 percent prosecco. (Several of the wines listed below do meet the D.O.C. standard.)
- Waitrose San Leo, $7
- Cantine Maschio Prosecco Brut, $10
- Cavit Lunetta, $10
- Zardetto Conegliano Brut NV, $10
- Menage a Trois Prosecco, $14
- Valdo Prosecco, $15
- Nino Franco Rustico Prosecco, $15
- La Marca Prosecco, $17 (I love this, a hint of sweetness, lots of bubbles, I think it pairs well with almost anything.)
- Vino dei Fratelli Prosecco 2013, $18
- Mionetto Cuvee Sergio Prosecco, $20
- Le Vigne di Alice Doro Valdobbiadene Brut DOCG 2013, $20
If for some strange reason you can’t find a wine on this list that appeals:
- You are crazy.
- But I suppose you could skip the wine by itself and make the best sangria ever, rosé lemonade, Bellinis, or some other fun summer wine cocktail.
- But you’re still crazy.
(Much thanks to Reverse Wine Snob, Time, Wine Enthusiast, Food & Wine, Food & Wine, New York Times and for their recommendations and great insights. Hey this is a pretty massive list people, I did some research along with my own tasting.)