There really are no wines that are technically better than others during certain seasons of the year, but when the weather gets warmer, our mood changes ― and typically our tastes along with it. Different activities come to mind, farmers’ markets pop up, seasonal foods grace restaurant menus, and particular wines begin to appeal to our senses.
In general, heavy reds or high alcohol wines are less tempting to our palates when spending a day in the hot sun or kicking up our heels at an all-day barbecue. There are both red and white wines that attract more attention during the spring and summer months.
Pinot Noir is the most highly recommended red wine in warmer weather, from Volnays & Marsannays from Burgundy, France and lighter styles from Oregon and California, to Sancerre Rouge ― which is Pinot Noir from the Loire Valley in France and lip-smacking good with a slight chill. Extremely food friendly, Pinot Noir pairs well with everything from grilled Tuna and Salmon to Poached Chicken and most anything made from Pork.
Grenache is not often seen as a varietal wine but it is generally soft and full of fruit, not a bad combination for summer imbibing. Some popular Grenache blends include Chateauneuf du Pape and Cotes du Rhône from France and Rioja from Spain, where the grape is called Garnacha. These wines complement barbeque staples and grilled steak as well as simple pizzas and pastas.
A red wine you may not have considered for spring and summer, red Zinfandel, can be bold and spicy but it also pairs perfectly with bbq sauces and grilled meats, not to mention cheeseburgers and hot dogs.
As far as whites, Pinot Grigio is about as light and breezy as it gets. Best known in Italy, but also popular in California, France, and the Pacific Northwest, Pinot Grigio (or Pinot Gris) is a suitable accompaniment for grilled fish, vegetables, salads, and light dishes in general.
Sauvignon Blanc, including Sancerre and White Bordeaux in France and New World styles from regions such as New Zealand, South Africa, and California, just may be the perfect warm weather white wine. With common descriptors such as “grassy” and “citrusy”, it can almost cool you down just thinking about it. As far as food goes, Sauvignon Blanc can tame the most difficult warm weather friendly dishes, such as grilled artichokes, asparagus, and anything with vinaigrette dressing. The Oyster, however is the match made in wine heaven for this zesty and refreshing grape.
Rose wines have been making a comeback in recent years ― for good reason ―and can be made from many difference grapes including Pinot Noir, Grenache; many times the best examples are blends. Roses are pretty, flirty, and, as Julia Child once quipped, “Roses can be served with anything.”
Sparkling wines such as Cava from Spain and Prosecco from Italy should not be overlooked as warm weather wines as well. Generally lighter, and with lower alcohol levels than Champagne, they are easy to sip, and sip, and sip….Cheers!