Summer has officially arrived – at least that’s what I claim, since it’s after Memorial Day, and I can now properly wear white. Actually, here in Northeast Ohio, with our mild winter perforated with periods of unseasonably warm weather, we didn’t even have much of a winter-to-spring-to-summer transition.
Many people are seasonal drinkers, meaning their drink of choice changes as the mercury rises or falls. This is why cold, and often flavorless, beer is the favorite for a large portion of the American population – what can be better than an ice-cold brewsky after a sweaty afternoon of lawn mowing or sun tanning?
I’m here to tell you what. Certainly, beer has its advantages, notably its portable packaging. But wine can be an ideal summer beverage; you just have to choose well and maybe use plastic instead of glass to avoid shattering your stemware on the concrete bordering the pool.
My tastes also change as the weather heats up, as I find it difficult to enjoy a rich Cabernet or Syrah in 90+ temperatures, unless I’m swaddled in air conditioning. Two of my favorite summer sippers are dry Rosés and sparkling wines. The latter can actually be particularly useful, as they come in smaller sizes (375ml and 187ml) as well as different containers, i.e. cans in the case of Coppola Sofia bubbly.
But if portability is not your primary criterion, there are bountiful options out there. A simple Prosecco, like the Clara “C” (around $15), can be drunk by itself but also pairs well with light summer dishes. If you’re seeking quality but can’t afford Champagne, a sparkler from another part of France (made in the Champagne method) is a much cheaper, yet equally delightful option. The Chateau Moncontour Sparkling Vouvray (made with the Chenin Blanc grape, around $20) is dry but wonderfully fruity. For the perfect combination of a Rosé and a sparkling wine, the Albert Bichot Brut Rosé (about $20) is the idea pre-dinner drink, but can also stand up to heavier foods. Sparkling wine is made for fried foods, as it cuts through the grease.
As for still Rosés, look no further than France. While wonderful Rosés are being made all over the world, France originated this trend, and many affordable options are on offer. Provence in southern France is the classic Rosé hotspot, and La Sangliere Rosé (about $15) is a light, fruity option. For a slightly more robust variation, the Tavel appellation is the place to visit, as it is the only wine region in the world that produces solely Rosé. The Les Vignerons de Tavel des Lauzeraies (about $17) provides a bit more oomph than the Sangliere while not putting too great a dent in your wallet.
Of course, there are plenty of other options too. Look for Pinot Gris (usually more complex than Pinot Grigio, although it is the same grape), dry Rieslings, unoaked Chardonnays, and Sauvignon Blanc from France or New Zealand. So settle back in that lounge chair, dip your toes in the pool, and sip away! All of these wines are available or can be ordered from your favorite local Northeast Ohio wine shop.