By Summers are a scorcher and the thing one must look for in a drink is its ability to bring down the mercury, within and without. Refreshing, cooling, crisp and fresh, lifting, bubbly, light, vivacious… the adjectives abound, but let’s see what drinks can accommodate these.
White: In one word, Riesling. Even the name of this grape is refreshing. A good Riesling from anywhere is always a treat and more so in
Summer. Fruity, citrusy, crackling, and did I mention fruity?! Germany and Austria do great ones out of Europe, Alsace is good too but is a tad meatier in texture. Australia is another place to hunt them down, especially the dry styles (with no sugar at all): Tasmania makes great ones, as do the Clare and Eden valley.
Rosé: This is the quintessential summer wine and any version is good. I’m fond of the White Zinfandel variety at one end and French varietals at the other. The former can be a bit sweeter but, with its low alcohol, makes for a soothing sip. Tavel in France is also a region famed for light rosés, as are some cities like Anjou in
Red: The only criterion to look for in a red wine is
Drinkability. This is composed of three things: fruit component, tannin strength, and the alcohol meter. As long as the fruitiness is high, acidity lively with low tannins and low alcohol, I think we have a winner. Italian reds from the north (Barbera, Dolcetto) can work well as will pinot noir from New Zealand and Australia. It isn’t a bad idea to have reds a tad cooler than usual in summers.
Sparkling: Champagne works anytime and anywhere but avoid the oaky ones. I prefer the fresher non-vintage sparkling wine — Else, Prosecco and Cava —which don’t pack the same elegance as champagne, they also don’t cost as much. Bellinis and Mimosas are a great way to watch the sun set.
All in all, break the rules: Add ice, change glassware, mix with soda, do whatever, as long as the drink refreshes and urges you to reach out for another.
The writer is a sommelier