What makes a wine good for hot weather? Wine that refreshes and cools, that picks up and invigorates, that inspires porch night conversations and pairs perfectly with grilled seafood. Chilled Whites are the order of the day here, sweetly bubbly or bright with a lemony zing. Cravings arise for floral, herbal Whites, sleek and crisp. Maybe even a Red will fit the bill. Which wines match best with the heat of summer? We think these six are pretty perfect.
Our biggest crush this summer is Mont Gravet Côtes de Gascogne. Made with 100% colombard grapes, there’s a cool, crisp burst of white peach at first, then bright refreshing lemon. Tangy, balanced acidity makes the complex peppery finish a wonderful surprise. Pairs beautifully with summer salads or a spicy ceviche. Serve as a citrusy counterpoint to Green Curry Chicken with Rice Noodles. Lovely with Seaside Cheddar–the wine swoops in, supporting hints of salt in the cheese, and the cheese, in return, softens the wine’s crisp edge.
Here’s a surprising summer favorite–a chardonnay. Vinum Cellars Chardonnay incorporates notes of toasted oak and vanilla, but then a breezy tang of citrus kicks in and stays through the aerodynamically smooth finish. Think sleek and lingering with a floral, herbal zing. Perfect with grilled salmon or summer greens and strawberries. Try with Summer Tomato and Crab Salad – it matches, then lightens the richness of the crab. Pair with Cowgirl Creamery’s Organic MT TAM to bring out the white mushroom and custard notes in the cheese.
Maybe it’s the beautiful bottle, but there’s a distinct “party” feel to bubbly Pizzolato Moscato Dolce. Made with organically grown grapes, this wine’s exuberance comes from an early hand-picked harvest. Look for nimble sweetness, creamy texture, loads of just-ripe peach and bubbles that don’t stop. Serve well-chilled with a plate of tart fruits and cheese (Fromager d’Affinois double créme is extra nice here) or try as a mixer in a blood orange cocktail. The savory richness of a Ham, Mushroom and Fontina Frittata is countered happily by this effervescent moscato.
Mediterranean wines, with their sassy acidity and floral complexity, are spot-on for summer. One of our hot weather must-haves is Anthilia, an elegant, coolly complex White from Italy’s premier winery, Donnafugata. Aromatics and fresh farm grass reward the nose, and a hint of sea salt shows up in the herbal finish. Plays perfectly with lemon-seared shrimp, fish tacos or Grilled Chicken Salad with Peach-Pecan Vinaigrette. Pair with Hervé Mons Camembert to higlight the cheese’s pleasantly salty, grassy notes.
Most Reds rock when temperatures are cooler, but here’s one that’s happy in the heat: SeaGlass Santa Barbara Pinot Noir. Grown in very cool, foggy conditions, the grapes have a long “hang time,” filling the fruit with vibrant flavors. Red cherry and ripe strawberry notes linger in the light-bodied, fresh finish. Chill for a bit in the refrigerator, then enjoy with grilled salmon, lime-roasted pork chops or Goat Cheese Bruschetta with Cherries and Mint. A luscious triple créme brie like Hervé Mons St. Nuage gives the wine room to show off, then reappears to round out the finish.
And finally, no hot summer is complete without a glass or two of Robert Mondavi’s hallmark Fumé Blanc. You’ll taste crisp, bracing lime and softer honeysuckle notes at first, then spiciness and tangerine in the finish. Grilled seafood, tacos al pastor and melon with prosciutto are perfect pairings. Grilled Swordfish Steaks with Tomatoes and Pine Nuts bring out the wine’s silky texture. Note the fruit-spice “flash” when paired with Le Cendrillon’s luscious, world-champion goat cheese.
Summer is here and the mercury is rising. Which wines rise to the top of your hot weather list? We’d love to hear about them!