Summer time is a great time for wine, friends and fun. But after a few weeks of drinking those California Chardonnay staples or the standard Sauvignon Blancs that everyone loves so much, where should you go next? What are some other summer options that can quench your thirst while offering a little something new, a little something different to expand your palate? Here are some of our favorites.
Rose. You can’t go wrong with Rose when the weather cranks up. But not all Rose is the same. It’s popular as all get up right now so you can find it from almost anywhere, but is all Rose built the same? No it is not.
Start with French Rose from Cotes de Provence. Chinon Rose made from Cabernet Franc is excellent too. This is a good bar to set for price to quality. Next move around Europe, try some new places. Rioja rose can be delicious. I’ve had Hungarian rose that I loved. Then move to the US and see how they stack up.
Regardless, Rose is a constant crowd pleaser and most bottles can be scored under $15. Serve chilled, and pair with just about any summer cuisine.
Muscadet. This is a summer white wine that lands on many wine geeks’ recommended lists because it typically offers surprising quality at a competitive price.
It’s becoming easier to find too, although even some huge stores like Total Wine near me only carry a handful of choices. So I’ve sampled them all, and it is indeed hard to beat for the money (mostly under $20).
Muscadet is bright and refreshing, but with some body and strength that makes it interesting all the way through. Pair with white fish, summer salads, or enjoy on its own.
Riesling. Forget the super sweet stuff. Riesling is an awesome summer pick. Look to Austria and Germany for some great wines. Curious how to tell if Riesling is dry or sweet?
Check the alcohol (low alcohol = sweet, +12% alcohol = dry). Good Riesling has depth and body, vibrant fruit. It is often refreshingly crisp and can pair with almost anything. We are drinking a lot of Riesling right now.
Pinot Grigio and Arneis. Specifically, Pinot Grigio from Italy. Looks for bottles from the areas of Fruili-Venezia Guilia, and Trento Alto Adige.
And see if you can find bottles of Arneis (Are-Naze) from Italy too. It’s a grape that is missing the mainstream radar right now, but is absolutely delicious in the summertime. You will frequently see Arneis from the Roero area which will be listed on the label.
Vinho Verde, Portugal
Looking for ridiculous bargains in the summer months, look no further than Vinho Verde. You can find most bottles for around $10, and there are few wines in that price range that are as a crisp and refreshing. You’ll sometimes get a super light touch of effervescence too in these wines which I always like. One great name to look for is Avelada ($10, pictured above).
Another Loire Valley white. The Loire is where so many fantastic wine bargains can be found nowadays. Get out there while it lasts. Vouvray is predominantly made from Chenin Blanc and will have a nice body with distinct notes of honey and apricot. You’ll find most Vouvray wines priced between $10-$20 at better wine stores.
If you’re interested in further exploring French wine, check out our book, “Decoding French Wine,” on Amazon in paperback and eBook formats. We also have beginner books for wine fans interested in Italian Wine and Spanish Wine.