What Wines to Drink in the Summer





Although keen not to jinx the positively thawing weather, we thought it prudent to recommend a few summer tipples to quench your thirst. While many wine drinkers are set in their ways and steadfastly stick to their guns, there will always be a seasonal changing of the guard in terms of wine and grape varietals supped during these very welcome warmer months. Attention turns to lighter meals and a hankering for even lighter wines; full-bodied reds get replaced with lighter and fruitier counterparts, while whites and rosés are prepped for their time in the sun. 

In terms of reds, hearty Cabernet Sauvignons and the punchier Shiraz wines tend to be replaced by lighter reds like Pinot Noir from the New World regions of New Zealand, chilled Beaujolais, where Gamay is king, or suitably fruity reds that pair brilliantly with the obligatory barbequed meats, such as Loire Valley Cabernet Francs.

Light bodied, high acidity and with few tannins, Beaujolais isn't for everyone but to some it is the archetypal picnic wine. With very few exceptions, they are meant for early consumption and taste best when lightly chilled, so don’t be afraid to put them on ice for a few hours. Although patently lighter in style, Beaujolais is also an excellent wine to have at a barbeque because of their easy-drinking style and capacity to subtly bring out the flavours of grilled meat.

Likewise a chilled, ethereal Pinot Noir is just the ticket on a sun-kissed day and is equally compatible with food. Chilling reds remains divisive but doing so can give you a broader spectrum in regards to your wine selection during the summer. Cool-climate Pinot’s from the New World and also - dare we say it - slightly cheaper ones, tend to respond well to chilling so pop them in the fridge for half an hour before serving.

Whilst it should not be reserved solely for this time of year (click here to read Mirabeaus Stephen Cronk debunking a few myths about rosé) summer provides us with a delightful opportunity to crack open a refreshing bottle of rosé. There has been a real shift towards the increased production of stellar rosés and there is subsequently a plethora of quality wines available for this previously frivolous style of wine. It is no longer viewed as merely a thirst quencher so whether it is a rosé with bags of fruit and a nice medium finish from California, or an iconic, dry, pale and subtle rosé from Provence, there are a number of great accompaniments to your summer from both the Old and New Worlds.

Obviously refreshing white wines are all the rage during the summer and grape varietals such as an icy-cool, restrained Riesling with its bountiful flavours of lime zest and nectarine are very in vogue. Riesling tends to be considered in a similar vein to marmite in that you either love it or hate it, but this is perhaps courtesy of the Riesling that was consistently over-produced during the 1980s when it certainly polarised opinion. Modern Riesling is far more palate friendly and while the archetypal Alsace incarnation regularly hits the spot, don’t be afraid to try an Australian or Chilean Riesling which are both great summer sippers.

Like Riesling, Gewüztraminer tends to lend itself to summery al fresco dining and the very best from Alsace, Chile or New Zealand’s East Coast blend this grape’s unique varietal characteristic with a vibrant freshness.

A sprightly white Sancerre, particularly those from revered winemaker Joseph Mellot, often have lively, floral, gooseberry and grapefruit aromas that lend themselves to a lazy summer’s afternoon in the garden. Equally, an elegant Chablis that marries the typically luscious orchard fruit flavours with the region’s iconic lip-smacking acidity is a great summer wine that is a lovely match with chicken, salads and other warm weather fare.

The better Australian Chardonnays from the cool-climate of the Yarra Valley will have an opulent palate of green apples and a long, citrusy acidity, or a Chardonnay from South Africa’s Western Cape, which can be similar in style to their more revered Burgundian cousins, are worthy wine selections over the coming months.

Whilst not forgetting your vibrantly refreshing Sauvignon Blancs, particularly from New Zealand or Chile, or the delightfully floral Albarinos from Spain, why not try a tropical-fruit flavoured Chenin Blanc from Stellenbosch in South Africa. Indigenous to the Loire Valley in France, the aforementioned grape varietal is also thriving in South Africa. The very best combine a delicate fruit aroma with a wonderful minerality.

There really are a wide ranging array of wines to crack open as spring turns to summer and the above are a just few pointers, so throw caution to the depleting winter winds and experiment with your wine selections this summer.

[Main image by Jenny Downing]
 
 

Written by: Ben Moss

Ben Moss 

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