Ultimate Pairing Guide: Chapter 3

Chapter 3: Summer Wines

The kids are out of school, and the nights are starting to get longer. It’s a time to celebrate, to kick back and to relax. Now, which wines would pair best with this scenario?

A Fun Time of Year: Kicking Back With Summertime Wine Drinks

Think hard about summer — the favorite season of many. What comes to mind? To us, summer means long days, with the sun shining later into the evening, higher temperatures, lighter clothes, pool parties, barbeques and reconnecting with friends who became a little more distant through the colder winter months. Sounds like an excellent opportunity to expand on your wine tastes, right?

Summer is the perfect season to try and pick a few new favorite wines, to expand upon your collection and to enjoy everything wine brings to the table — wine slushy, anyone?

As you consider summer events and holidays you may want to make a few wine purchases for, remember Memorial Day, Labor Day, Independence Day, family celebrations and reunions as well as any other opportunities to pull out the grill and open a few drinks.

Wine for Summer: The Top Sweet, White and Red Wines

As you start to build your summer wine list, remember that the best wines of summer should be served cool, providing refreshment during and after long, hot days. Likewise, summer wines can complement grilled foods and other picnic fare exclusive to the season.

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For many people, summer brings to mind sweet wines that are best when cold and enjoyed by almost everyone. During the summer, 20% of wine drinkers prefer lighter, sweeter wines and rosés, with 62% of wine drinkers citing “refreshing” as the most important quality for a seasonal drink.

As you shop for sweet wines, consider checking out:

  • Concords and Niagaras. These white and red grapes grow especially well in the Northeast, and — when left in their sweet state — taste just like the red or white grape juice you’d pick up at the store. These are excellent stepping stone wines for friends and guests who might be new to the wine-drinking scene.
  • Scuppernongs and Muscadines. These are the southern complements to Concords and Niagaras. These have a richer nose (or smell) but add levels of refreshment that can be difficult to match.
  • Moscato d’Astis. You’ll find these wines provide a light, sparkly flavor that could add an extra feeling of fun and celebration to summer events.

Looking for a few white options for summer? Think light, fruit forward and refreshing. Varieties to consider include:

  • Wines that are made from Assyrtiko grapes. These grapes are grown in Greece, and the Mediterranean region understands how to do summer right. Wines made from these grapes and served cold are perfect for hot summer days.
  • Unoaked Chardonnays. These wines are lighter and crisper than their oaked counterparts and go exceptionally well with grilled shrimp, chicken and picnic fare.

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However, if you’re a red drinker through and through, you don’t have to switch tastes for summer. In fact, many reds are perfect for the season! Options to browse might include:

  • Chianti. This classic, Italian favorite, pairs well with grilled meats, especially red meats, burgers, sausages and steaks on the grill. It can be served slightly chilled to increase the refreshment factor.
  • Sangiovese. New varieties in particular of this wine can present with hints of strawberries and other berries, aging to something deeper and oaky over time. For summer, a slightly chilled Sangiovese can be perfect for a cook-out. For an even better summer vibe, look for a sweet Sangiovese. This can be more difficult to find, but it’s more refreshing than dryer options.

Summer Wines to Add to Your List

Your summer wine list has arrived. Consider the varieties below as a starting point:

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