Thursday, July 10, 2014

Cool Wines for Tropical Weather

By Liza B. Zimmerman

I drink a lot more white wine when it is hot out. Dry rosés are also divine in the heat as long as they don’t have too much residual sugar. Bring on the bubbles while I am at the beach and reds that can be served somewhat chilled: I love you Lambrusco in the heat and some of those simple Beaujolais.

Here’s a bit of a roadmap for what you will want to be drinking this summer. Keep in mind this list is focused on traditional summer climates like those you find back East, in the Midwest and almost anywhere but my current hometown of San Francisco. Frankly in the fog belt out here we can bring out the Barolo in July as it rarely gets over 60+ degrees in the summer. So if you want an excuse to drink corpulent reds hop a flight out here and drive up or down the coast.

Ideal Summer Whites
Crisp wines with ribbons of acidity are so refreshing in the heat. Let’s start with some of the foreign picks. Grüner Veltliner is delicious. You will want a little food with it: a good excuse to have a picnic as acid levels can get quite high. The Austrians don’t make huge volumes of wine, and drink a lot of their own production, so some of these elegant choices can run a bit expensive. The Berger Grüner Veltliner is a good wine and a solid value that comes in a groovy 1970s-inspired, one-liter bottle.

Sancerre is like a bottled hunk of the cool green countryside of the Loire Valley. A food writer once called the sub-region “Green Acres à la Française,” and she’s right. There’s also a fair amount of biodynamic work going on both here and in other sub-regions of the Loire. Heading to the Western shores of the Loire Muscadet is also unbeatable in the summer, with that hint of sea salt in the palate.

White Bordeaux just gets no respect and boy does it merit it. The consumer focus on the region’s reds arereflected in the wonderfully affordable prices of many of these whites, made by the same skillful hands that in some estates produce reds. Chateau La Mouliniere is delicious and food friendly. The Bordelaise also make some feisty rosés, mostly from Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Spanish region of Navarra is also dynamic with its dry rosés, such as Bodegas Nekeas “Vega Sindoa.”

If I had to pick three, actually four, Italian wines and regions they would be Soave; Arneis; and the native Campanian whites along with the Sicilians. Falanghina is not only fun to say but delicious to drink.

Closer to Home and Reds
Half way around the world and right on our border Canada excels at producing impressively dry and mineral-packed Rieslings. Keep in mind flights from New York to Toronto are really affordable and easy. If you haven’t been to Niagara-on-the-Lake it just might be time to go. The view of Niagara Falls really is better on that side.

Sauvignon Blanc is endlessly appealing in the summer. Domestic producers tend to produce fruitier styles that are more quaffable without food. Joel Gott is a favorite of mine. Dry Rieslings from the Finger Lakes are also perfect outdoor sippers. Konstantin Frank makes some stellar examples. Washington and Oregon are both producing some fabulous dry Rieslings.

Few things are more fun on a sunny day that a sparkling bottle of Lambrusco. The drier ones are really making a make for themselves these days. Serve them with some nuts or dried fruits to really bring out those fruit-chewy flavors. The Beaujolais Crus are also bewitching and benefit from a little chill in the bottle all year long.

As we have long said in the wine business room temperature always referred to that of a Medieval Castle not your over-heated kitchen. So history is just another excuse to enjoy some fresh and palate-cleansing wines this summer.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

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