Wines To Pour When The Sun Shines
Violets. Damp herbs. A squeeze of lime. These things evoke the change of seasons. Bask in the mood by pouring wines filled with the flavors and fragrances of warmer weather.
Here are six such wine styles and why each one is the ideal sip for the spring and summer.
There’s something about Chablis that evokes a stroll by the lake or ocean on a clear, bright day.
It probably comes down to the hallmark aromas and flavors of wet stones found in this classic unwooded Chardonnay – something often attributed to the soil of the region that’s rich in fossilized oyster shells. In fact, Chablis even tastes gently saline.
Or maybe it’s the cool, crisp, silky entry that tastes more like a beam of sunlight in the mouth than anything else.
Regardless, Chablis’ distinctive taste is perfect this time of year – especially served chilled with some simply prepared seafood.
One of the most desirable traits in quality Chablis is a long, tingly finish of high acidity and flint-like minerality.
Whether you favor France’s bright but understated expressions, the gutsy grass-and-gooseberry gusto versions from New Zealand or something in between, one thing is certain; drinking Sauvignon Blanc is seasonally savvy.
That’s because few white wines are as unabashedly refreshing and polished tasting as Sauvignon Blanc.
What’s more, the style is seldom wooded, so the vivacious fruit never tastes muted or creamy, and it tastes a bit like damp herbs, leaving the palate perfectly seasoned.
Seasoned for what, you ask? Just about anything.
This wine is versatile, but tastes particularly delicious with green salads, pesto pastas and goat’s cheese – all the foods you crave this time of year.
Sauvignon Blanc features unique herbaceous flavors like bell pepper, jalapeño, gooseberry and grass.
The lit lime allure of Riesling is bang-on this time of year, too. Not only does it brighten the palate, it also lifts anything you care to serve with it.
Ignore that myth that Riesling is always sweet. It ranges from bone-dry to luscious, but always maintains high acidity to balance any sugar, so it always finishes clean, dry and optimally refreshing. And the flavor profile ranges from lime to lemon-lime sorbet to chin-drip peach.
Another advantage of Riesling is that it’s often lower in alcohol than other wines – hovering around 11 to 12 percent – helping you lighten up a bit.
Serve a dry, off-dry or medium sweet Riesling well chilled with a spicy charcuterie for an easy treat.
Riesling is one of the most collectible white wines among top connoisseurs around the world.
Not only is Beaujolais seasonally on point with its lifted lick of ripe red fruit and lighter body, it’s also one of the best bargains in the wind world today. This fact is especially true when a bottle of Beaujolais comes from any of the 10 top growing areas, or “crus.”
These wines can offer the elegance and complexity of fine red Burgundy at a snip of the price, calling to mind notes of freshly turned earth and violet.
Cru Beaujolais is usually labelled by its cru rather than the word “Beaujolais,” so look for these names on the store shelves: Saint-Amour, Moulin-à-Vent, Morgon, Brouilly, Fleurie, Juliénas, Chénas, Chiroubles, Côte de Brouilly and Régié.
Stock up on a couple of bottles to pour with meats, poultry, pizzas and pastas.
Beaujolais features red berry flavors, including raspberry, red cherry, red currant, and cranberries.
From the beet-and-cranberry-scented expressions from Canada and Burgundy, to the darker, cherry-rick versions from Oregon, Pinot Noir remains a very stylish pour for spring, largely because of the texture.
Pinot Noir is the world’s most popular light-bodied red wine.
Pinot Noir tends to be silky, with relatively low tannins, so it feels cool, smooth and light. Compare that mouth feel to the velvet of cashmere texture of Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah, and you can see why Pinot Noir works so well at this time of year.
What’s more, it’s food-friendly. A match made in heaven? Pinot Noir with Chinook salmon, which is now in season. It also pairs particularly well with duck, chicken, pork, and mushrooms.
Rosé Wine For Spring and Summer
Pink wine is in its absolute prime when the sun tarts to really shine. In short, hello spring and summer means hello rosé loud and clear.
Pouring pink is the one surefire way to drink better this season. Not only does it look great in pictures, it offers serious range – swinging from seriously haute rosé Champagne that can amp up an occasion in a single pop, to blushing sweeties such as White Zinfandel and pink Moscato, made for that casual quaff.
And knowing a bit about each coral-tinged style and when to pour each on is a total badge of sophistication these days.
Here’s what you need to know now, cropped into six stylicious categories.
Rosé happens when the skins of red grapes touch wine for only a short time. Where some red wines ferment for weeks at a time on red grape skins, rosé wines are stained red for just a few hours.
Starting high, ultra-premium pink in the form of rosé Champagne has been around for a long time. Ruinart was probably the first to make it, with records showing the house was doing so as far back as 1764 – that’s more than 250 years ago. Fun fact to trot out next time you pop a cork, don’t you think?
And all rosé is based on Pinot Noir, sometimes blended with Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay – another fun fact.
Reliable bottles include Veuve Clicquot Rosé, Bollinger Brut Rosé and Billecart Salmon Brut Rosé.
But you don’t need to just look to France for pink bubbles.
Other Smart Sparkling Rosé
Italy makes fabulous, dry sparkling rosé too – especially in the Veneto region. One such example is Anna Spinato Spumante Brut Rosé, which is an organic wonder that will have you at hello.
This style is generally a bit less complex than rosé Champagne, but offers good value for the money. And importantly, these bubblies are wines – not just celebratory tipples.
Appreciating this distinction and serving them with food puts you squarely in the know.
To knock it out of the park, serve dry rosé fizz from France, Italy, or anywhere else, with smoked salmon for a greater-than-the-sum situation.
Sophisticates From The South Of France
In the world of still table wines, Provence is still the most stylish place to look. Drinking pink from that part of the world instantly channels Mediterranean chic, Paris cool and that yachting-off-the-coast-of-the-French Rivera thing.
And that vibe has come to North America in a big way.
Frankly, swanning about with something pale, pink and Provençal in your glass has been all the rage for about 10 years now, and shows no sign of slowing.
Sassy Sippers From New Zealand
New Zealand is also getting into the rosé game with fresh, fragrant expressions of Pinot Noir. The hue tends to be a bit deeper than pours from Provence and the fruit more forward, but what it lacks in coy elegance, it makes up for in vivacious fruit and an easy-to-like nature.
Plus, drinking Pinot Noir from New Zealand has been stylish or several years now, so the paler versions are a natural progression.
Keeping a bottle of New Zealand rosé in the fridge for when you’re about to grill some beautiful salmon steaks sets you up for spring and summer in a big way.
For more frivolous occasions, such as that Sunday night Netflix binge, California’s White Zinfandels and Australian Moscato rosés fit the bill.
The sweetness of these rosés makes them cocktail-like drinks, and they are usually well-balanced by racy acidity that keeps them quenchingly delicious.
Serve them straight out of the ice to rachet up the refreshment factor, serve them with salty or spicy finger foods, such as potato chips or Buffalo wings, and you’re all set.
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