Thursday, August 10, 2017

Beach Weather is Upon Us

By Liza B. Zimmerman

With hot weather digging down on most of the South and East Coast it is time for us to lighten up on our wines. I drink much more white and lower-alcohol reds in the hot months and would invite you to do the same as well. The last thing you need in a heat wave is a super-over-proof California Cabernet.

Adam Padilla, who is a chef at the CIA in St. Helena has a few answers. “There are a variety of wines well suited for a day at the beach, especially if you draw inspiration from islands and coastal regions around the globe – such as Galicia, Santorini, Provence, Minho, California and Marlborough. Look for the varietals that hail from those regions and the wines the locals drink all summer long.”

I couldn’t agree more the Albarinos and crisp Vinho Verde’s from Northern Portugal and Spain are some of my favorites. They also pair so well with a wide range of seafood. The really often taste like sea spray in a bottle.

Padilla also likes brisk, crisp, higher-acid whites such as Loureiro (Vinho Verde), Albariño, Grüner Veltliner, Assyrtiko and Picpoul. I adore the Rhone whites, such as Picpoul and Marsanne and Roussane almost any time of the year. Regions like Paso Robles and Lodi are also making some great white Rhone-inspired wines.

“Since acid helps to cuts through fat, and sugar [and fruit] can help balance salty foods, the wines above can be versatile pairings for everything from chicken salad sandwiches, to garden fresh pesto pasta salad, panzanella with mozarella, homemade potato chips, and summer fruit salads. Crisp, minerally whites also go especially well with oysters, clams, paella and fresh seafood dishes,” adds the chef.

Going Red
If you want to enjoy reds during the summer it’s nice to go with brighter, lighter wines. “A high-alcohol, full-bodied red may not be the most ideal pairing for a hot, sandy summer day,” says the chef. “The wine should be fun, lighthearted, shareable, chilled, and – most importantly – not too serious.”

Ones that can be served slightly chilled like a Beaujolais Cru, Lambrusco or Chinon are all great choices. Padilla agrees, adding that summer is time for “Light, bright, fruit-forward reds with low tannins such as Carignan, Counoise, Frappato, Grignolino, Gaglioppo and Gamay.”

Or as a stand in for a red try a rose made from the same grapes. “Drier, direct press [non-saignée] rosés made with Grenache/Garnacha, Cinsault and Carignan such as those from Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon, and coastal California. Saignee is French for bleed and describes a method French of removing some of the juice from the must so the resulting wine light or bright pink not red.

“Another fun idea is to bring along a bottle of aperitif wine –similar to vermouth. Just add some club soda and fresh fruit and you have yourself a nice, refreshing spritz [which will also help keep you better hydrated],” jokes the chef.

Additional things to think about for beach consumption can also include how alcoholic the wine is. “Low alcohol is also important with summer wines. It’s easy to get dehydrated while out in the sun, and wine with high alcohol content could exacerbate that problem. Screw caps are also a bonus, since they’re easy to open and reseal.”

Cheers from all of us at DrinkUpNY!

Liza B. 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.