As we transition into summer, when backyard barbecues and pool parties reach their pinnacle, it’s always nice to have a good selection of wine on hand either to serve guests or to offer as hostess gifts.
But when you’re staring down the aisles of your neighborhood wine merchant, it can be easy to glaze over at the many options available. How do you know which wine to choose? What styles represent the best for summer? Never fear: We’ve got just the wines you’re looking for.
Whether crisp and dry or slightly sweet, a nice, cold white wine can cool off any long day at the office. If you like a more standard varietals such as Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, experiment with something out of the norm. Or try a dry Alsatian Riesling, fragrant and fruity white Rhone, or zippy Austrian Grüner Veltliner.
2012 Simonnet Febvre Saint Bris Sauvignon Blanc
Whole Foods, $12
Though it’s odd to find a Sauvignon Blanc coming out of the Burgundy region, this is a crisp, refreshing wine with a medium body and fresh floral, citrus and green notes. It pairs well with Caprese salad, grilled fish and picnic fare.
2012 Ipsum Verdejo
Spec’s, approximately $12
A Spanish gem from the Rueda region, the Verdejo grape is both aromatic and herbaceous, which makes it a good substitute for Sauvignon Blanc. This particular wine has beautiful notes of lemon and lime zest, white flowers, and summer herbs, with a hint of salinity on the palate. A great wine for summer salads, grilled shrimp or scallops.
2012 Jordan Chardonnay
Spec’s or Whole Foods, approximately $30
For those who just can’t do without Chardonnay, this is a must-try wine. Fuji apple and fresh, ripe pear mingle with bright citrus tones and a touch of vanilla for a Chardonnay that comes as close to white Burgundy as you’ll likely ever find from the U.S. Try this with poached or cured salmon or a midday brunch quiche.
White wine is fine, but rosé is better. These days, pink is the way to go. Don’t believe us? Then check out John Bonné’s recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle, “Is pink the new white?” Rosé has all the zesty acidity and refreshing verve as white wine, with the added fruitiness and depth of red wine. With our climate, it’s something we can enjoy all year in Texas.
2013 Miraval Cote de Provence
Whole Foods, approximately $24
This wine is the first release from Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, but don’t knock it ’til you try it. A combined venture with the Jolie-Pitts and the famed Perrin family, this wine has become a fast favorite for the summer. With bright acidity and a balance of strawberry, grapefruit and cherry blossom, try it with grilled seafood or a cheese and charcuterie plate.
Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé
Total Wine & More, approximately $11
Specifically grown for rosé production, this wine is the perfect “bridge” wine for red wine drinkers who need something a little lighter in the hot summer months. Black cherry, black currant and a touch of watermelon make this an excellent picnic wine. Serve with charcuterie, seared tuna or a juicy grilled burger.
Lucien Albrecht Crémant d'Alsace Brut Rosé
Spec’s, approximately $22
Nothing brightens up rosé like bubbles. And the secret to avoiding an expensive Champagne purchase is to head east of the region to Alsace, where sparkling Crémant d’Alsace is some of the best sparkling wine for the price. You can’t beat this Lucien Albrecht, with flavors of strawberry and wild cherry along with a pleasing creamy texture and long finish.
Just because it’s hot outside, doesn’t mean red wine completely loses its place at the table. Typically, it’s better to serve lighter styles of Pinot Noir, Gamay (Beaujoulais), and Zwiegelt. But you can get away with any red as long as you treat it right.
Although it’s said that you should serve red wine at room temperature, this is usually for places around the world where room temperature is somewhere around 65 degrees — which is not Texas. When wine is served in a too-warm climate, all you end up tasting is alcohol, not the nuances of fruit, earth and spice.
The key to good summer red wine is chilling it. If you give it a good 15-20 minutes to cool down before serving, you should be in good shape. Refrigerate it longer if you are planning to serve it outside.
Cain ‘Cain Cuvee’ NV10
Spec’s, approximately $34
From a special Spring Mountain winery in the Napa Valley region, this is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot that is surprisingly light and refreshing in style. It pairs beautifully with seared tuna and grilled meats.
2012 CrossBarn Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
Spec’s, approximately $35
From the skillful hands of famed winemaker Paul Hobbs, this CrossBarn Pinot Noir is a more value-driven second label that carries through in quality and overall structure from his namesake brand. A perfect summer Pinot, this wine has cherry-raspberry fruitiness with restrained character and balance that would a nice complement to grilled pork loin.
2010 Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon
Spec’s, approximately $39
Even in summertime, there’s always someone who just has to have a big Cab. This is one that won’t compete too heavily with the summer heat, and it has smoky chocolate and dark fruit characteristics that make for a perfect grilled steak pairing.