I was recently asked if I have a favorite wine. No, I don’t, but this requires further explanation.
I don’t really have a favorite wine, but I do have types of wines that appeal to me at different occasions, different times of year or depending on my state of mind. For example, I never drink sparkling wine when I’m in a bad mood, and I don’t drink special occasion wine alone.
Those are personal idiosyncrasies, but this one is shared by more people than just me: Big bold red wine doesn’t go well with the summer heat. Therefore, I have some suggestions for wines to pair with your summertime fun.
There are a multitude of white wines that are good for beating the heat, but I can’t select a “routine” wine from one of the oversold areas of the world. For this reason, I want to take you to Languedoc (Lang-doc), located on the Mediterranean coast.
If you have not consumed your way through southern France, you don’t know what you are missing. Although known for its rich and high-alcohol reds, there are some white wine gems here as well. One such wine is located in Coteaux du Languedoc and called Picpoul de Pinet.
This is one of those “name of the grape from a place” labels, which makes it easier to understand. Picpoul (peak – pool) is a grape not widely planted outside of this area, so you may not have heard of it.
Nonetheless, this grape makes great wine in spite of the extreme heat here because it maintains its natural acidity. The name comes from piquepoul, meaning ‘lip-stinger,” a testament to this acidity. The outcome is a wine that makes for a crisp, refreshing, lemon-flavored treat.
For the next wine, we are jumping over to Penedès. Located in the north eastern corner of Spain, Penedès is well known for Cava production (Spanish sparkling wine) but also produces a variety of still wines as well. One of the red grapes grown here is called Ull de Llebre. No, this is not another obscure grape that you have never heard of but rather a popular Spanish grape under the disguise of this colloquial name. The grape is tempranillo and, in this case, it is in rosè form.
Let me emphasize that this is not your sweet and syrupy rosè but rather dry and delicate with hints of raw red fruits and mouth-watering crisp acidity.
Since I’m so predictable, those of you who read me consistently know I will now move on to a red wine. There are so many reds that are light and appropriate for the summer, but I wanted to push the envelope a bit. For the next wine we stay in Spain but move over to the Ebro River Valley in north central Spain. The upper Ebro is well known for the wines from Rioja, but today we are here for Campo de Borja, where the Grenache variety is king.
Many of the vines planted here are ancient and with the moderating effects and varying altitudes of the Moncayo Mountains. It creates near perfect growing conditions for this variety and some ridiculously good wines.
Many people tend to shy away from the juice of the vine when the temperature rises. All I’m saying is that wine can be your drink of choice year-round, despite the temperature. So if you are heading out by the pool, lake or to the beach this summer, grab your plastic wine glasses (or even a red Solo cup) and enjoy some summer wines.