What kind of wine do they drink in summer? Blog from the sommelier of the restaurant Valentino

The hot season and the period of picnics and field trips are not the time for heavy tart wines with a high alcohol content. In warm weather, you want something completely different from the winter cold. In addition, the choice of dishes will also depend on the seasonality and, accordingly, require different gastronomic combinations.

Here are some wine tips to avoid in summer:

High tannin – pronounced astringency requires an appropriate combination, for example with game meat, beef, which contain enough protein to balance the drying effect of tannins. In the summer, such dishes are rarely consumed, and although you should prefer red to grilled meat on a warm summer evening, it is still better to opt for its simple and fruity alternative, which can be slightly cooled before serving. Intense tart reds appear harsh and dry at low temperatures and too heavy and alcoholic at high temperatures;
Powerful and full-bodied reds;
With a high alcohol content (above 14%, even 13.5%);
Almost all fortified (except perhaps for the Fino sherry, but this is rather a local tradition in Andalusia);
Barrels of all types;
Very sweet.


It is desirable that summer wine has the following characteristics:

Light body;
High acidity (at least above average);
Medium astringency (maximum 13%);
Refreshing shades (citrus, floral, mineral, herbal) for whites and fresh red and black berries for reds.
In the rich world of alcoholic beverages with these characteristics, there are many different types of options. We will analyze them further.

Red wine for summer
Here, attention should be paid to light body, bright fruity profile, moderate alcohol levels and low astringency. Of the French appellations, these will be:

Unobtrusive Loire Valley Cabernet Franc:

Game of the Touraine appellation (also from the Loire Valley);
Sancerre, where Pinot Noir is used;
Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages from Gamay;
Regional Bordeaux, where Merlot predominates in the assemblage;
Pinot Noir from Alsace.

From neighboring Italy, the following alternatives can be selected:

Valpolicella from the assemblage of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara;
Bardolino from the shores of Lake Garda, from the same varieties;
Dolcetto d’Alba – from the grape of the same name, produced in the Piedmont region. Unlike the structured and tart Barolo and Barbaresco, it is easy to drink, has a soft fruitiness, much less astringency and does not require long-term aging;
Alto Adige – Schiava (or Trollinger), which produces juicy fruit drinks with moderate tannins and good acidity, which are reminiscent of Beaujolais in style.

Other (more exotic) regions include:

Zweigelt from Austria;
Pinot Noir from New Zealand and southern Argentina (Patagonia).
All of the above proposals are characterized by drinkability, light to medium body and low astringency. Therefore, they are perfect with cold appetizers (pâté, cold cuts, even fish like tuna) or white meat.

Wine for kebabs, which already has a pronounced taste, both thanks to the meat itself (especially if it is lamb), and thanks to the marinade and smoking that grilling on coals gives, you need to choose something more serious, but still, not from the Pauillac series , Saint-Estephe, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Pomerol. Suitable names include:

Pinotage from South Africa, which has a similar coffee-smoked aroma and palpable tannins;
Italian Primitivo from Apulia with a medium body, rich flavor and palpable acidity;
Chilean Carmenere, which, thanks to the intense sunlight and the significant amplitude of night and day temperatures, has both concentration and fresh herbal aromas and acidity.

You should not choose in the summer heat:

Powerful and tart Medoc of communal names (Pauillac, Margaux, Saint-Estephe, Saint-Julien);
The dense and complex Pomerol, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru from the Right Bank of Bordeaux;
Intense drinks with a southern character and options from the warm climates of the New World (Roussillon Village, Cahors, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blend from Napa Valley or Argentina);
Complex aged wines that require thoughtfulness and a special approach;
Fortified red ports.

White wines
Here the choice will be much wider, since there are no tannins in this category of drinks. According to the “white” production method, the grapes are pressed immediately after harvest, and the must is not infused on the pulp (skin and seeds). The exception is orange wines, but they have already been singled out in a separate category. Read more about it in my article.

The principle is the same here – drinks should be simple and clear, bright, refreshing and drinkable. The ten-year-old Burgundy Grand Cru from Chassagne-Montrachet should be postponed until “winter” gastronomy such as baked stuffed turkey or veal fillet in a creamy morel sauce. For a light summer aperitif on the terrace or a picnic on the beach with French wines, the following are more suitable:

Nebochkovy Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley:
Mineral Sancerre – for fresh goat cheese;
“Smoky” Pouilly-Fume.

Same style and variety from Bordeaux:
Entre deux Mer – classic combined with oysters;
Grave Blanc;
White Bordeaux.
Entre-Deux-Mer Graves Blanc

Muscadet Sevres and Maine sur Lee – mineral wine from the vineyards of the Atlantic part of the Loire Valley;
Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur

Non-barrel Burgundy Chardonnay:
Chablis and Petit Chablis – to a set of seafood or a plate of unseasoned cheeses;
Macon Village – for example, with a shrimp cocktail.
Petit Chablis Mâcon Villages

From Italian:

Classics – high-quality Pinot Grigio, clear and bright, with a pure fruity taste;
Soave is a more complex but still summer wine from the volcanic terroir;
Lugana – a little-known white from the autochthon Turbiana (formerly Trebbiano di Lugana) and the appellation located on the southern shore of Lake Garda;
Arneis – a variety from Piedmont, from which the wines of the Lange and Roero names are made;
Gavi is also a name from Piedmont, based on Cortese, characterized by crisp acidity, citrus and mineral, “silica” tones.
Italian white wine for summer

Of other European names:

German Riesling, especially from the cool Moselle, with bright lime shades (Alsatian Riesling is more ripe, juicy and dense);
German Riesling

Austrian Gruner-Veltliner from the cooler part of the Wachau region;

Sukhoi Tokay from Hungary;
Dry tokaji

Greek Assyrtico from Santorini island.
Conversely, not the best choice would be:

Very sweet Sauternes, Tokay Aszu, Riesling Beerenauslese;
Sweet fortified: vin doux naturels, sherry and madeira.
Despite the fact that they are also recommended to be served chilled, the dose of sugar that it contains will be appropriate only with dessert, which will turn out to be a rather cloying combination in the summer heat.

Pink wine for the summer
Rose is a truly summer, seasonal product, the demand for which has skyrocketed since the beginning of May. Usually these drinks are less than one year old, i.e. this is the wine of last year, the last harvest. They differ:

simplicity and drinkability;
fruit and flower bouquet;
lack of barrel shades;
light, less often – medium, body;
refreshing acidity;
lack of tannins (in rare cases, they can be barely noticeable).
Wines with such characteristics do not have the potential for aging – they can wait one year, maximum two, but then they will begin to fade gradually. Due to the lack of tannins of grape skins and wood (due to aging in barrels), as well as woody shades, the bouquet of the rose will not be able to develop and will quickly begin to lose its bright berry notes. Therefore, this category is literally wine for the summer and picnic, not for the cellar. By the way, to determine that the rose has already passed its term and is unusable (which can happen even earlier than two years later), it is its attractive pink or salmon color, which has turned orange or light brick.

Here are some examples of this summer classic from France (read more about French roses in my article):

Rose de Provence are the most famous French representatives of this category. They are considered the best and at the same time more expensive compared to their counterparts. They are strongly associated with hot evenings and light picnics in nature, partly due to the Provencal climate, which does not favor the use of powerful red wines. Rose de Provence have a pale pink color, thanks to the production method – direct pressing of berries without maceration on the pulp, when the wort is only slightly colored. These are very aromatic and pleasant drinks with bright notes of sour cherries, red currants, sometimes peonies and pepper.
Rosé de Provence

Rose de Loire and d’Anjou, Cabernet d’Anjou – from the Loire Valley ascending sweetly

(dry, semi-dry and semi-sweet). They are made by the same de method as the Provencal ones, but from different grapes – Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Grolo. Slightly simpler than Rose de Provence, but also an excellent option for outings in nature, when you don’t really think about the complexity of the bouquet.
Rosé de Loire Cabernet d’Anjou

Bordeaux Rose is a variant from the famous wine-growing region, for which both methods are used – direct press and short maceration. The second results in a richer color, “wine” character and sometimes slightly noticeable tannins. This appellation also has the Claret category, which is distinguished by its dark pink color and is similar in characteristics to red wines.
Bordeaux rosé

Sancerre Rose – made from Pinot Noir.
Beaujolais Rose – from Gamay, rarely seen, but gradually gaining popularity.
Beaujolais Rosé

The Italian alternatives, Chiaretto or Rosato, are:

Bardolino Chiaretto – from the shores of Lake Garda from assemblage, Corvina, Molinara and Rondinella;
Tuscany Rosato – from the traditional Sangiovese region or Bordeaux varieties;
Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo (Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo) – the name of the southern rose from the region of the same name. Made from the local Montepulciano variety;
Etna Rosato – with an original mineral flavor, thanks to the volcanic soils.
Italian rose wine for summer

And also the Spanish Rosado from Grenache and Tempranilio appellations: Navarra and Rioja.

Navara Rosado Rioja Rosado

Rose is a multifunctional drink that goes well with a range of summer dishes, depending on its style:

Delicate Provencal, dry Loire, Bordeaux, as well as Italian – for non-nutritious seafood snacks;
“Wine” Claret – to steak or grilled marinated meat;
Semi-sweet Cabernet d’Anjou – for spicy appetizers, like shrimp with ginger, as well as not very sweet desserts and fruits.

Sparkling wine
A festive option, especially since summer is the season of weddings. Moreover, the choice is not limited only to expensive champagne. This category perfectly fits the definition of a summer drink, because:

always served chilled;
bubbles of carbon dioxide enhance the refreshing effect;
has a “crispy” acidity;
almost always light-bodied.
For a gala evening, of course, champagne remains the most classic choice. But I suggest sticking with a more casual than rich wine style, for example:

The non-vintage cuvée is a Champagne House classic that reflects their individual styles;
Blanc de Blanc – 100% Chardonnay with pronounced citrus and mineral undertones.
Vintage cuvées with long lees aging are distinguished by a complex bouquet and require an exquisite gastronomic accompaniment. In addition, they are served at a slightly higher temperature (10-12 ° C), which allows them to unleash their potential. A lower temperature for non-vintage versions (6-8 ° C) emphasizes their freshness and simpler aromas, while a complex bouquet simply would not open up in such conditions.

Of course, the business is not limited to champagne alone. An alternative made by the traditional second bottle fermentation method (often more affordable) would be:

French cremans are sparkling counterparts from eight regions – Loire Valley, Bordeaux, Alsace, Burgundy, Limoux, Dee, Savoie and Jura. Sometimes you can find a very worthy replacement for champagne among them, but in general, their organoleptic profiles will differ from typical Champagne, because most of them do not use Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, but local varieties.
French cremans

Italian Spumante – Franciacorta and Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico – from the province of Lombardy produce very high quality sparkling wine from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris, vintage and non-vintage. And Franciacorta also produces drinks of a unique type of Satèn, only with white grapes and with less pressure than the traditional Spumante.
Franciacorta Saten

Spanish Cava – its production center is located in Catalonia, and winemakers can use both champagne varieties and Spanish autochthones Macabeo, Xarel-Lo and Parellada. In the second case, the kava is, of course, more authentic, but the price / quality ratio remains very attractive.
Various cuvée cava from the renowned manufacturer Freixenet

Austrian Sect – variants from the local autochthon of Gruner-Veltliner are especially interesting.

Lovers of exotic can be advised sparkling from the Californian zone – Sonoma, or from the island of Tasmania, which belongs to Australia. Both are produced by the second bottle fermentation method.

The famous Prosecco cannot be ignored. Here, the Sharma method, or accelerated second fermentation, is already used, when it takes place not in bottles, but in large sealed vats. There is much less contact with sediment, but the style of these wines is simpler, lighter, floral-fruity, without signs of autolysis (decomposition of dead yeast cells, which give, for example, champagne

, a characteristic shade of brioche, sweet pastries, dairy products). Prosecco is produced mainly in white, from the Glera variety, and in the extra-dry (12-17 g / l sugar) category with a slight sweetness. But recently, the governing committee has included the pink Prosecco Rosato in the appellation, where Pinot Noir is added to the Glera. In addition, more and more bruts are appearing among prosecco.

And in combination with an abundance of fruit, you can serve sweeter Italian sparkling:

Sweetish Asti from Muscat – to moderately sweet grapes, apricots or peaches;
Moscato d’Asti is a sweeter and less sparkling (pressure in the bottle does not exceed 2 bar) variant from the same region and of the same variety, ideally combined with strawberries. It is also one of the least potent examples (about 7% alcohol);
Asti Moscato d’Asti

Brachetto d’Acqui (Brachetto d’Acqui) – semi-sweet dark pink sparkling from the Brachetto grapes of the same name, produced in Piedmont, goes well with cherries;
Lambrusco – from the province of Emilia-Romagna from different subspecies of the Lambrusco cultivar. Slightly tart, but quite refreshing, thanks to the characteristic bitterness in the aftertaste.


See you at the Valentino restaurant at the Swiss Hotel!
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