We’ve had a pretty ‘hot’ summer here in Ireland this year – even by the high Sunny South-East standards of Wexford.
As you sat out more in the back garden this year, you probably noticed your food cravings changed from the Sunday roast to the summer salad. Similarly, when it comes to wine, we usually, abandon the heavier, full-bodied red wines and start looking for more refreshing summer wines to quench our thirst.
One of the reasons why this happens is that when heavy red wines are chilled, they lose their distinct robust characteristics. Accordingly, it is light-bodied whites and rosés that dominate as favourite summer wines. These two complement the taste of fresh summer cuisine, refresh the palate and taste better when chilled.
Drinks with high acidity, a light-to-medium body, and a dry flavour are best for summer. Perfect for a beach picnic, a day at the park or a neighbour’s BBQ, these sipping wines are suitable for any occasion, and even all year round.
Serving Tips to Get the Most from Your Summer Wines
The trick to the perfect summer sipper is a slight chill. Every wine tastes best at a certain temperature. Heavy red wines are meant to be served at 15–21 degrees, while whites and rosés should be anywhere from 6–13 degrees.
The taste and the experience of these wines are improved by chilling them. The acidity of white wines and rosé wines tends to be higher, and the fruit flavours are more delicate.
In addition to enhancing the subtle flavour notes of lighter wines, chilling also softens any boozy or bitter notes they may possess. During the summer, a chilled wine also keeps us cool and provides energy.
I know, I know. On many occasions, you have visited a friend’s BBQ and have been handed a red cup for your wine/beer/whatever. The only thing I can say about this is to use what you’re given (if no choice) and don’t be a pain in the butt.
Stemmed glassware does help to keep hands from warming up cold wines and also helps to maintain the right temperature for longer. However, it can depend on the quality of the wine being served so just enjoy the experience with friends.
Screw caps have gotten a bad rap over the years. But let’s face it – at a BBQ, a picnic, or a garden party the easier bottles are to open, the better.
Also, the truth is, that wines are closed with screw caps to preserve freshness. Therefore, you’ll find that white wines and rosés are more often closed this way, along with lighter, youthful reds.
A screw cap lets virtually zero air into the bottle, so the wine is less likely to change as time marches on.
Rule of Thumb Pairings
-White wine for beach days. Its refreshing acidity and bright finish complement beach-side food of salty fish, grilled vegetables, and crisp salads.
-Rosé for pool or garden parties in the afternoon. Rosé wine pairings are like whites, but the subtle sweetness and flavours of strawberries, flowers, citrus, and melon make its outdoor party pairings unique.
-Light-Bodied Reds for BBQs. Light-bodied reds are everything their heavy-bodied cousins are not: refreshing and bright, with high acidity and fresh fruit flavours. Chilling it in the fridge for about 1 hour before serving would be fine with the BBQ snacks
-Orange wine. Just a quick note about so-called orange wines. The difference between an orange wine and a rosé is in the grape. Orange wines are made using white wine grapes, with a prolonged maceration period, the same way rosé is made from contact with red grape skins. They can taste a little different so try one and see what you think.
Summer Wines That Pair with Sunshine
So, as we approach the latter end of the summer, I want to give you a list of some light reds and whites (in no particular order), that won't overpower your taste buds. They come with my usual caveat though – when it comes to wine, enjoy what you enjoy.
Riesling is one of the most food-friendly wines a person can drink during the summer months. It’s characterized by a crisp acidity and notes of peach, pear, and apricot. Perfect for pairing with Thai food or otherwise spicy cuisine.
2. Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir with its light, pleasant mouthfeel makes it ideal as an easy-going start to any meal. This wine will appeal to red lovers who are attempting to keep things on the lighter side, during the summer.
Rosé is a perfect wine to pair with shellfish, though its surprisingly versatile and can even be served alongside certain red meats. As far as summer wines go, it’s difficult to beat the refreshing qualities of a well-crafted rosé.
4. Pinot Grigio
Pinot Grigio seems practically born for drinking during the summer months. With notes of mango, pineapple and guava, the racy acidity of Pinot Grigio makes it an excellent wine for pairing with vinegary food. There are few wines that beat this particular grape when it comes to pairing with seafood.
Not everyone enjoys a bone-dry white wine, and for those who are looking for something on the sweeter end of the spectrum, Moscato fits the bill. With notes of pear and honeysuckle, it can be perfect as a dessert wine or simply alongside an acidic salad.
6. Sauvignon Blanc
I couldn’t leave this one out, could I? Known as being perhaps the best possible wine for pairing with chicken and most types of seafood, Sauvignon Blanc is often exactly what most people are looking for when attempting to choose the perfect summer white.
Don’t jump on the bandwagon and rule out a nice fresh Chardonnay. The creaminess of Chardonnay matches any buttery food, so the summer breeze paired with a plate of scallops and sauce with a glass of Chardonnay is a warm weather match that’s difficult to beat.
Sometimes, one of the best summer wines for the evening party outside. Woody, tannic and reminiscent in many ways of fresh tomato juice, there’s simply no better wine to drink alongside a slice or two of pizza.
Beaujolais is a popular summer wine. Fruity, juicy, and very easy to drink, Beaujolais can be paired with practically any protein, including various types of seafood.
Summer won’t last long, so pick one of these delicious summer wines, get outside and enjoy the sunshine!
Caution: Overheating Summer Wines
We all love the sunshine but the thing to remember is that excessive heat can be damaging to wine in the bottle.
Wine in the bottle starts to deteriorate if its temperature rises past 26 degrees and starts to suffer permanent damage if it reaches 32 degrees or above.
Forget about leaving it on the table in the sun. Think of when you buy it then and leave it in the car (in the heat) while you do more shopping. In this instance, you’re actually, cooking the wine.
What happens to an overheated bottle of wine? Conventional wisdom holds that heat imparts stewed, caramelised, one-dimensional flavours, which is not an enjoyable experience (and a waste of money perhaps).
Nothing in this article is gospel
There’s nothing worse than pretending that you like something - so don’t. Bring your own wine to summer parties, better still bring a magnum, and allow the other guests to revel in your good tastes!
This is your summer, and you deserve to enjoy every second of it - cheers to you, and to your favourite summer wines.
Enjoy your wine your way, and don’t let anyone tell you that your way is wrong!