Summer time wines: refreshing wine for the changing season
Red, White or Rose? We selected the best of red, white and rose wines for the summer time weather.
It's June and gone are the days where we crave hearty comfort foods. We've replaced stews and casseroles with grilled dishes, salads, and an altogether more al fresco way of life. But for the wine lover, switching from your reassuring and full-bodied Carmenere to something more lighter and zestier can often be a bit of a puzzle.
So let's break it down simply, by looking at the three main groups of wines and what aspects of them suit the more temperate weather, lighter food and balmy evenings:
First, let's tackle what some consider to be the trickiest wine for the warmer season, the red grape variety. Not all reds are rich and full-bodied, some lend themselves to being much lighter. Seek out fruity reds with berry flavours, and enough tannins to cleanse the palate. Look for Argentinian Malbecs, African Pinotages, and ripe juicy Australian Shiraz. The Zinfandel and the Grenache work wonderfully with grilled smokey meats, burgers and tomato based pastas.
White wine is perfect for sipping on a hot day. Frequently lower in alcohol than red wines, whites can be a more responsible option, leaving you less dehydrated. The Sauvignon Blanc is a classic summer grape variety, fabulous with antipasti dishes, goats’ cheese, or beautiful grilled fish. The Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio are wonderful, light and zesty wines that go well with any white meats, salads and seafood. White wine should be served chilled and will bring a refreshing acidity to your summer fare. To add a bit of interest to your wine choices, consider including some wines from English vineyards. English sparkling wine is enjoying a sensational resurgence, and will make your summer celebrations fizz over with blends of classic white grapes that certainly give champagne or Prosecco a run for their money.
The Rosé wine gives us the best of both worlds. It is light and zingy enough to cut through all the grilled and smokey food, cooled for the warmer temperatures, yet with enough of a soothing red grape flavour to bring a hint of tannin and richness. Have your ice bucket at the ready to try some wonderful Pinot Noir Rosé varieties. These wines have strong raspberry flavours, and are great when paired with slightly darker meats, like turkey burgers, chicken thighs, or even lamb cutlets. The Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé is best sourced from the south of France, or look for varieties from the Navana or Rioja regions of Spain. These wines go well with salads and can even be transferred over into accompanying fruit-based desserts.
Whatever colour grape you choose to pair with food, consider the main flavours. The lighter dishes like fish and vegetables need a zestier wine, from the white or rosé families. For sausages, burgers and the like, favour the lighter side of the red wine range. Of course these are not rules, merely guidelines, so whatever you choose, experiment and have fun in the sun.