Summer Sippers!

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Summer means independence! Kids of all ages, including myself, feel just a tad lighter in our step and maybe even lazier, with the rush of school errands, sports activities and professional networking finally a bit slower. July is the time to sit back, enjoy fireflies and symphonies of summer crickets and frogs.

Wine in July vies for space among beer and cocktails. Right now, the wine industry is harvesting some of the white varietals that have ripened in the summer sun and need to come off the vine before the corn comes in. What does summer mean to you? Just like taking off our heavy winter wear in spring, it’s a great time to celebrate the lighter side of life and summer’s warmer temperatures. Chill these dry white wines and be surprised by the fruit on the front of your tongue and balanced clean finish.

Riesling is such an interesting varietal, as the vines can withstand very cold climates yet produce a wonderful royal refresher in the heat of summer, both in a dry style and a late-harvest sweeter style. The French style will even have a bit of spice, perfect with Thai, Chinese or sushi menus.

Pinot Gris is the same grape as pinot grigio, but the wines are very different. The Italian version, pinot grigio, tends to be lighter with floral aromas while the French-styled pinot gris is more full-bodied and hearty with a clean dry spice.
We can thank Argentina for providing us with Torrantes, a dry, delicate yet hearty white wine with refreshingly unsweet orange blossoms, peach and flowers; it’s terrific with seafood.

Honeysuckle floats in the air after you observe a golden, sunny hue in your glass of Viognier; then you can taste the melon and tropical nature of this dry, complex wine.

Chenin Blanc is a chameleon that can appear as sparkling wines, dessert wines, and most often as a lovely dry gem with hints of honey, fresh grasses and even cantaloupe or honeysuckle.

“I don’t drink red wine in the summer.” You may have heard this phrase a few times, due to big wines with heavy tannins in cabernet sauvignon, syrah or petite sirah. We would miss so many enjoyable pairings of spice and warmth with our summer menus if we dismissed red wines altogether. Personally, I sip red wines that can be served without requiring food to enjoy them. These are some of my favorite summer reds for any time of day or evening.

Delicate, temperamental, smooth as silk all apply to Pinot Noir, a dry red wine that has a sense of violet, tobacco and dark cherry. This wine is excellent with all diets as well, from vegan to pescatarian.

Rosso is beautifully made, with unique proprietary blends from winery to winery. The result is a lush, food-friendly, approachable dry delight that may contain some parts of sangiovese, merlot, cabernet sauvignon or more. It’s Italy’s best loved table wine.

Sangiovese is enjoyed fairly often at our house; it’s a dry beauty with the aroma of an old barrel rolling into a spicy strawberry on palate as the fruit shines through.

Grenache is fabulously flexible and contains a wonderful dark cherry profile. Slightly spicy and a bit higher in alcohol, it is often blended with tempranillo or syrah for additional color and body.

These wine varietals are terrific on hot days, warm evenings and with both savory and spicy menus. And if you’ve noticed lately, there’s an abundance of new wine labels described as “award winning” and “refreshing.” The descriptions of acidity, freshness, grapefruit, gooseberry, floral balance and sweetness all begin to sound the same, regardless of price point. If you end up opening something that’s simply just okay, try adding a few mandarin orange slices, apple slices, frozen grapes or chilled cucumber slices to spruce up that glass of white wine and add a layer of freshness. Enhancing a glass of white wine with these items may actually draw out some of the base nuances originally intended by the winemaker.

Don’t forget sangria! This traditionally Spanish method of enjoying both white and red wine is a refreshing way to serve the beauty of summer by the pitcher. Simple sangria can be made with a bottle of wine, a bottle of sparkling water, frozen bags of fruit, half a cup of rum or vodka and lots of ice. Add some mint and you’ve got summer in your glass.

Summer wine snacks could include dried fruits, chilled melon wrapped in prosciutto, parmesan cheese with fig compote and relishes made with ground mustards. These foods bring out beautiful layers of complex flavors in your summer wines. Arrange them on a nice cutting board and simply sit outside for a few minutes and enjoy a moment, such as your Independence Day moment, a celebratory pastime shared by many generations before us. HLM

Source: and the experience of the author.