Warm-weather wines should be cool and refreshing, and compliment the finger food that’s a staple of summer. The wine should be light with a lower alcohol content. Heavy or dark wines are overbearing in the heat, and it’s a bad idea to intake too much alcohol with the heat beating down. This article will attempt to cover some of those bases.
First, chill your wine, especially if the bottle you’re using has been sitting around the house for awhile. During winemaking, batches are treated with certain acids to lower the pH for flavor and bacterial resistance. As a byproduct of these chemical additions, KHT (potassium bitartrate) may crystallize after wine sits, especially in warm weather. What this means for you is that your wine might wind up tasting bitter.
Chilling your wines, especially blushes (because of the sugars) and wines with higher alcoholic content will help the KHT dissolve back into the wine to stabilize the flavor.
Avoid brands like Yellow Tail or other mass produced wines that are simply marketed well. As with any situation, a wine’s bad flavor will become more pronounced in the heat.
Take note of different tastes, and try to map them to different foods. Fruity, dry red wines work particularly well with grilled burgers, pairing the strong, more grounded taste of the burger with the light, berry tastes. Citrus or blush wines go well with fish, and sparkling wines do wonders with cold foods and sandwiches. These rules aren’t set in stone, and are all a matter of taste.
Here are five wines to help get you started:
Li Bella Pinot Grigio, ~15-17$
This is a sweet, white wine that goes down light and has a citrus feel. This is perfect with fish, salads, chicken, or can be circled among friends while waiting for food to cook. Coming from New York, this is a fantastic deal for the price.
Iron Horse, ~20-24$
From Sonoma County in California, this is a medium strength sparkling wine, a perfect pick-me-up after a hot day in the sun. This works well in combination with either cold meals or spicy, provided it’s a light Mexican dish or a southwestern / chipotle-style dish. I wouldn’t recommend burritos or anything with a great deal of chicken or rice. Still, Iron Horse is smooth and rich, effective at cleansing the palate after a hot bite and accentuates almost all desserts.
Altano Douro, 7-9$
This is the best grilled-food wine of summer, hands down. Not only is this available in many stores (around NE Ohio, at least), but it’s cheap and is tasty. Do NOT forget to chill and tilt this wine, otherwise you may notice a serious compromise in taste. This wine hails from the Douro Valley in Northern Portugal, and has a pronounced berry and summertime taste. It’s fruity, and the aftertaste has a great spice feel. The fruit and spice, combined with the musky smell go well with burgers, hot dogs, ribs, kielbasa, and just about any red or dark sauce. Perfect for campfire meals.
2 Up Shiraz, 15-17$
Shiraz, which is Australia’s staple wine, comes (from the Kangarilla Road Winery in Australia) with a more dessert feel than the previous entries. This pairs very well with tomato sauces, soups, or pizzas. I wouldn’t recommend any white sauces, italian dressings, or fish.
Colores del Sol, 12$
This is from the northern edge of Mendoza in the Luján de Cuyo area, and the wine offers a similar feel to Cabernet Sauvignon. Malbec is typically used to blend with Bordeaux, but in Argentina, they simply make it into a brazen, use-on-anything wine. This is another wine with a fantastic summertime feel, and can be bought online for twelve dollars a bottle. My friends and I disagree on what foods go with Malbecs in general, so use your own discretion.