The skinny on summer food wines & sippers (5 min. read)
Warm weather, fresh breezes, eating alfresco, the smell of barbecuing filling the air; whether you’re at a cottage, in your backyard or lounging on your rooftop patio, Vintages has a wine to match the occasion.
Barbecuing is a beloved feature of relaxed, easy summer mid-week dining and weekend entertaining.
Broad-shouldered wines like mighty Mendoza Malbec, concentrated Cali Cab, and stalwart South Australian Shiraz cry out for sizzling steaks, saucy ribs, gourmet burgers, spicy grilled sausages, grilled veggies and more. These are wines with the depth, balance and confidence to face the heat!
As great as steak or a grilled sausage on a bun might be, sometimes you want something a little lighter.
We’re not saying you should eschew a meat-heavy summer menu, just gently suggesting that you branch out. How about a bright, flavourful rosé from Provence for that salmon wrapped in foil with summer veggies that’s waiting on the grill? Or a crisp, savoury Sauvignon Blanc to sip with that avocado salad? Go for it! Meatless options, no-cook salads loaded with fresh locally sourced ingredients, fresh-fruit platters – Vintages has a wine for them all. The summer sky’s the limit.
Fresh & Crisp Wines
Sarah Jessica Parker’s (yes, that Sarah Jessica Parker) curiosity and eagerness to learn were instrumental in the creation of a new line of wines, launched last summer to much critical acclaim, that reflects her personal tastes while affirming the best of Marlborough’s terroir. A serious student of the art, Parker impressed Invivo co-founders Tim Lightbourne and Rob Cameron with her tasting instincts as she assembled the final blend of this juicy Sauvignon Blanc made from grapes grown in five vineyards. The line also includes a rosé, with plans for more waiting in the wings.
The sun is shining, the air is warm and still and you’re sitting outside reading a book or listening to music and enjoying a snack – a charcuterie and cheese platter perhaps – and sipping on a refreshing, flavourful wine. Relaxed and at peace; the hardest part was choosing the wine. Did you pour a glass of crisp Chablis, or a gorgeous Niagara rosé? What about a glass of sparkling wine? When it comes to treating yourself, you really can’t go wrong – enjoy!
Summer means outdoor dining, relaxing, and finding creative ways to beat the heat.
A refreshing adjunct to the sunny, warm weather, Italian white wines are light, crisp, and a perfect option for alfresco sipping and supping.
Here are seven patio-perfect grape varieties to explore this year:
1. Greco Bianco hails from the mountainous, rugged, rural Calabria: the toe of Italy. Aromatic and evocative, Greco Bianco can create wines that are dry or sweet. It’s important to note that such is the historical popularity of the name “Greco” that it has become attached to several white grapes in Italy. Greco Bianco stands as a distinctive Calabrian expression. Bright and zesty, it’s great with grilled seafood.
2. Piedmont native Cortese is somewhat challenging to grow, and requires special care in the vineyard to keep the vine’s vigorous nature from taking over, which can reduce the quality and intensity of the final wine. The light, aromatic Gavi wines Cortese produces are floral, tangy and fruity with a pure minerality. Their lifted character makes them refreshing sippers, but these elegant wines are versatile food wines with a particular affinity for summertime alfresco dining with dishes like fish, chicken burgers or green salads.
3. Arneis, the “little rascal,” was so named because it’s such a challenging grape to grow. It hails from Piedmont and is typically used to soften the aggressive tannins of Nebbiolo wines. Increasingly, Arneis has enjoyed success as a single-varietal wine, the best of which come from its home, Roero. Arneis is typically unoaked, crisp and floral, but some producers use oak to craft creamy, fuller-textured wines. The lighter styles are great as sippers or with seafood appetizers, while the fuller styles pair with pork, veal or chicken.
4. Falanghina, which is believed to have originated in Greece but now flourishes in Campania, is a blend of two different but almost identical varieties: Falanghina Beneventana and Falanghina Flegrea. It’s now almost exclusively thought of in terms of the hilly, mountainous, volcanic soils of Campania, where it has risen to be considered the area’s signature white grape. Unoaked and fragrant, with orange blossom, apple, spice and mineral, this zesty wine makes a great sipper and is perfect with a range of dishes such as baked tomatoes, or fresh squid with lemon.
5. Vernaccia di San Gimignano was awarded DOCG status in 1993 and is Tuscany’s only DOCG white wine, but its fame reaches back to the 1200s. It’s mentioned in Dante’s Divine Comedy, where it was famously connected with Bolsena eels. The soils in which it’s grown are rich in fossilized sea life, and this imparts a refined, distinct, flinty minerality to the wines. Floral, bright and crisp with a bitter herbal accent, Vernaccia di San Gimignano is simply brilliant with seafood dishes or Portobello mushroom burgers.
6. You may not recognize this Veneto grape, but 10-1 you know it. This is because though it’s the principal grape in the blend for Soave (one of Italy’s most popular and renowned white wines), Garganega rarely appears on the label. Soave is a lifted, floral wine with white and yellow fruit and garden herbs and can develop suggestions of chamomile and honey with age. It’s a refined option, especially alongside seafood or an avocado-tuna salad.
7. Vermentino is most associated with three regions: Liguria, Sardinia and Tuscany. The key feature that unites these areas is that they all grow Vermentino close to the sea. This maritime influence not only cools the grapes, ensuring freshness and vitality, it also imparts a precise saline minerality to the wines. Vermentinos from Liguria and Sardinia are quite structured and intense, while Tuscany’s versions express a more fruit-driven, spicy character that’s perfect for herbed grilled shrimp, or grilled pork sausages.
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