5 Best Summer Wines for 2012
Guest Post by Jeff Shilling
With the arrival of summer, thoughts turn to grilling and other activities to maximizing one’s time outdoors. As a compliment to your meals and mood, a few summertime beverages are in order to quench everyone’s thirst and create the perfect relaxing time out in the sunshine.
To help you along with your summer planning and wine purchases we’ve prepared the following short list of five wines we at The Cocktail Party™ recommend pairing with your summer fun.
White wines are synonymous with summertime. Often served chilled, they provide instant refreshment and reprieve on a hot summer’s day. To satisfy those of you who thirst for a fruity, citrus wine to sip on the patio, we recommend Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2006 from Marlborough, New Zealand. One aspect that makes this tasty wine so special is they harvest their grapes at night when temperatures in the vineyard are cool helping to minimize oxidation. If you enjoy a dry, crisp, medium-bodied Sauvignon Blanc with a fragrant bouquet this is your white wine for summer. The wine exhibits an herbaceous aroma with hints of grapefruit, pineapple, lime, melon, pear and passion fruit. It’s low in acidity and has a moderate alcohol level of 13% – making it a very easy wine to drink and pairs well served with shellfish. http://www.kimcrawfordwines.co.nz/ ($17.99)
In contrast with the more traditional Sauvignon Blanc, we recommend a rather popular bargain from the local Trader Joe’s shelf you may have seen, but not yet tried – Espiral Vino Verde. Vino Verde means “green wine” in Portuguese, which refers to the use of young grapes, which are smaller and more tart than typical wine grapes, vs. referring to the wine’s color (which is actually pale straw in color). Imported from Portugal, it’s definitely a wine to serve well chilled.
This white wine is a blend made from grapes grown in Portugal’s far north Minho region and is one of the lightest whites you’ll find. Note: Espiral Vinho Verde is a “frizzante” – you’ll experience tiny bubbles bursting with citrusy aromas and crisp, clean lemon-lime flavors to offset the sweetness of the wine with every sip. The aroma is one of freshly sliced, fragrant green apple with a noticeable tartness. In the mouth the tartness is even more powerful ending on a slightly bitter note before the reappearing to linger on the palate. Despite this, we found this wine to be fairly refreshing; with a crisp taste and experience that the label states is “medium dry”. Like most Vinho Verde, the Espiral is low in alcohol (9% by volume) making it an easy bottle to sip straight from a deep chill on a hot day. Serve with lime-infused dips and foods such as guacamole, ceviche, salads or light fish and chicken dishes. http://www.vinhoverde.pt ($3.99)
While Red wine is less often associated with summer, we bring you the following two ripe reds ready for drinking without hesitation:
The vibrant fruity 2010 Menage a Trois Red Wine brings forth the fresh, ripe jam representative of the California wine region. Forward, silky and soft, this delicious dalliance lends the perfect accompaniment for summer grilling. It features a harmonious blend of three grapes: the saucy Zinfandel teasing out blackberry and raspberry fruit, the plentiful finish of Merlot in the middle, blended with the richness and firm tannins of Cabernet Sauvignon which together help this wine stand its ground paired with anything you have on the grill. http://www.menageatroiswines.com ($7.00)
For a bit more character, yet fully accessible to one’s palate despite being a full bodied Pinot Noir we recommend ‘Next’ Pinot Noir (from Oregon’s famous Kings Estate winery). Wine Spectator has rated this delicious, fragrant red 87 points. The pleasing, lightly peppered, slightly sweet bouquet of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and violets with a touch of mint will greet your nose, followed by a highly approachable, medium-bodied wine calling forth crisp raspberry, cherry and strawberry fruit with just enough tannins to refresh the palate and add a nice contrasting texture, especially on the finish which harks of dried herbs and cocoa. It’s fairly acidic, though not noticeably tannic. Therefore this is the perfect red to pair with simply prepared grilled red meats. http://www.kingestate.com/ ($24.99)
Last but not least, no summer patio would be complete without some refreshing bubbly, though rather than toss out a recommendation for another Champagne or Prosecco we invite you to try a “Portonic”! Pour Porto Rocha Extra Dry White Port over large ice cubes, add a ‘splash’ of tonic water plus a light squeeze of lime! (FYI: we recommend “Q” Tonic for its pleasing flavor and lack of corn syrup found in the majority of tonic waters.) Sipped on its own this Porto Rocha White has a nice floral quality to it that’s a bit nutty round the edges and extremely smooth on the palate. Bonus: in contrast to the garden variety vodka/gin & tonic the Portonic is the summer aperitif with lots of flavor and half the calories! ($13.00)
There you have it, our top 5 wine recommendations for 2012 – enjoy!
What are your favorite wines? Let us know in the comments below.
Jeff Shilling is the National Party Chairman of The Cocktail Party™ – the Party for partygoers, which is in the process of developing a comprehensive educational resource center and active community on the web for all who love and work with wine, beer and spirits. http://facebook.com/TCP4me