Warmer weather is upon us, which means it’s time to pack away the heavy winter sweaters – and heavy winter wines. And once the wood wine rack on your bar or kitchen counter is empty, you have an excuse to head to the store to stock up on warm-weather friendly wines.
But which ones?
When it comes to wine, everyone has their own preferences. Whether you’re a red vino lover or a Champagne devotee, we have some suggestions about what to drink this spring and summer. Drawing inspiration from both the cellars of experts and the wine rack in our very own kitchen, we’ve put together this list of warm weather wine options for every type of wine drinker.
IF YOU LOVE WHITES
White wine and warm weather go together like biscuits and gravy. Or actually, more like biscuits with strawberries and whipped cream. But not all white wines are equally appropriate for spring and summer drinking.
During the warm season, you might want to steer clear of more buttery, oaky varietals, like California Chardonnay, in favor of brighter flavors and livelier textures. Grassy New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs are fun outdoor options and Albarino, the sunny grape from drizzly northwestern Spain, is crisp and full of citrus.
Both are super food-friendly – but they’re also easy to enjoy on their own.
IF BUBBLES ARE YOUR THING
As far as we’re concerned, Champagne is always a good idea. But in the warm months, when drinking gets casual and heads outdoors, the French wine’s less pricey – but equally sparkly – cousins are a good bet. Prosecco from Italy and Spanish Cava are both nice, light alternatives to traditional Champagne.
Or consider cracking open a bottle of Vinho Verde, the lightly sparkling wine from Portugal. The wine’s tiny bit of sparkle is fun but subtle, which is perfect for a spontaneous Friday night porch party.
IF YOU'RE STUCK ON RED
Red wine lovers don’t go into hibernation during the summer – and they don’t necessarily change their preferences, either. Still, the big cabernets and zinfandels that match perfectly with heavier winter meals don’t always feel right during flip-flop season.
In this Eater column, Master Sommelier Brett Davis recommends that red wine aficionados migrate toward “thin-skinned” grapes during the warmer months – Pinot Noir, Grenache (also called Garnacha), Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Tempranillo. These wines, he says can be lighter and fruitier than other red wines and pair well with classic cookout fare.
IF YOU'RE INTO PINK
In recent years, rose’s popularity has exploded in the U.S. – and there’s good reason. In addition to being pretty and pink, the light and slightly sweet flavor of chilled rose is just about a perfect match for warm evenings.
“Roses are a wonderful cocktail hour wine,” says Brigid McAteer, a wine buyer at The Wine Source in Baltimore. “The bulk of my rose consumption is on the porch with some cheese.”
This season, look for 2015 vintages, says McAteer. “You don’t want any sort of age on them at all,” she promises. At her shop, some of the most popular roses are those that are dry but with just a touch of fruity sweetness, like the Sangiovese from Alexander Valley Vineyards or anything from the Loire Valley in France.
Whether you’re a fan of white, red, pink or all three, there are more than enough options to keep you experimenting – and keep your wine rack full - all summer long.
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