Summer is the season for warm days, cooler nights, backyard barbecues, weddings, beach time and sitting around a campfire. I'm JustWine’s own Certified Sommelier and here are my recommendations for summer wine styles you can choose no matter what summer throws at you.
Winning Wines for Warm Days
For sunny days you need crisp white wines and dry rosés. My choices for spring and summer are Vermentino from Italy and an elegant, dry rosé from Southern France. Oh wait, you only drink red wine? That's okay, too. Try a light-bodied red wine like Gamay or Pinot Noir and chill it down just a bit. You don't want it as cold as you might drink white wine, but if you take the edge off (think cellar temperature, not room temp) then it turns into a great patio wine and doesn't heat you up more than you already are. An Oregon Pinot Noir or a Beaujolais-Village will do the trick.
Big Wines, Cool Nights
Transitioning into cooler summer nights after a hot day you'll want to grab a fuller bodied white wine like Viognier and more intense flavoured rosés from Canada. If you're a red wine drinker, move into medium bodied reds with silky tannins like Merlot or Nero d'Avola. You've probably been drinking all day, too so stay hydrated with lots of water!
Wedding Season Celebration Wine
This is when people get hitched so you're looking at bridal showers and bachelor parties. Naturally, Champagne is on the list of celebratory beverages, but what if you've got Champagne taste on a boxed wine budget? Limoux is the answer! Same method of production as the real deal, classic labels and enough complexity to trick any wine enthusiast. And if the happy couple doesn't really care what they drink as long as it has bubbles then pick out a pleasant Prosecco and pop the cork.
Canned Wine for Beach Time
Don't take glass of any kind to the beach. That's dangerous and inconsiderate. This is why wine comes in cans. I can tell you're turning your nose up, but stop it. There are good canned wines out there now. Reputable producers are looking at alternate packaging for lots of reasons, two of them being convenience and the environment. Plus there's no need to waste your time pouring wine into plastic cups.
Big Wines for Backyard Barbecues
This is the best part of summer. It's not just beer drinkers that have all the BBQ fun. Grilling and wine drinking go together like smokies and cheese, burgers and buns, green jello and shredded carrots. Okay, maybe not that last one. California Zinfandel goes with anything that you've smothered in BBQ sauce and if you're grilling up some cedar plank salmon wash it down with a tasty dry rosé.
Wine Down Campfire Sips
There's nothing better than sitting around the campfire after the sun goes down, watching the flames hypnotize you. If you're me, you're also moving your chair every 15 seconds because the smoke keeps following you. Winding down at the end of a great day, you want to sip on something a little more contemplative. This isn't the time for a quick and easy wine, it's time to solve all of the problems of the world with a wine that makes you go "hmmmmm." Syrah is great choice and the smokey, peppery, dark fruit flavours go great with the smell of a fire. If you prefer whites, I suggest a big, oaky Chardonnay with lots of complexity and intense flavours.
Below are some of my favourite wines. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
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