Summer’s here, and the time is right, for dancing in the streets.” Yes, and for drinking the best and most delicious wines with our outdoor summertime meals.
Recently on a visit to Mexico, I was in a town where they closed the main street in the evening. All the restaurants put their tables outside, we ate plates of delicious Yucatan delicacies, drank local young red wine, and danced to Latin beats all night. The perfect picture of summer fun.
So, what wines and foods should we be matching this summer? Summer food is bursting with flavor, with casual dining coming to the fore. Barbecue of course, salads, seafood, and fruit in profusion. And we are looking for cooling drinks as the sun gets hotter.
When we are entertaining on our patios, enjoying the cool of the evening after a hot, gritty day, we want to offer our guests drinks which will quench the thirst and match the food whether it’s a robust barbecue or a palate pleasing seafood salad.
If you’re looking to quench your thirst, then you don’t want to be taking too much alcohol on board. So look out for light whites with their generally lower alcohol content. For example, young Vino Verde wines from Portugal, with their sharp lemony, grassy flavors and light green color, pair beautifully with Greek style salads loaded with feta cheese, heritage tomatoes and olives.
Rose wine is a summertime favorite. The light pink color is refreshing just to look at in the glass, and the typical fruity flavor is popular with everyone. Match it with barbecue if you don’t want to drink the traditional beer. Add soda, ice, and mint to make a cool and delicious spritzer, and feel free to drink way into the summer evening with no ill effects in the morning. Often made from excellent grapes like syrah, roses should never be despised as simple quaffing material, they can offer intriguing fresh and complex fruit and flower flavors. Drink with seafood for the perfect partnership.
A classic wine based beach, barbecue and party drink from Spain is Sangria. Sangria was traditionally made from a local red wine, with sugar or honey, chopped fruit such as oranges, lemons, melon, pineapple, even mango and berries, with a slug of brandy added to cheer things up. It’s now more usually made with cheap (but please, not horrible) red wine, soda or Sprite, with sliced orange and lemon added for color and flavor. Feel free to throw in ice. Sangria is a wonderful party drink, it’s also pleasant with a picnic or a barbecue, but for a more serious meal, complement you food with one of the many exciting summer drinking wines.
For a lighter flavor, use white wine to make a Sangria blanca. For really hot weather, freeze the fruit you are going to use in your sangria, frozen green grapes look rather good in Sangria blanca. Look for a savignon blanc or a good blend from California for your white Sangria.
Don’t neglect red wine when planning your summer wine buying. For fun drinking, seek out Italian Lambrusco, with it slight sparkle. Once considered a simple cheerful quaffing wine, Lambruscos can now offer some excellent and relatively complex flavors.
The real wine lover wants exciting wine. When choosing reds, use summers more casual feel to explore a little off the beaten track. Choose wines made from blends, such as pinotage, cabernet sauvignon and merlot, and seek out wines from countries which perhaps you haven’t yet considered – such as Argentina and Chile.
Of course there is one wine which stands head and shoulders above all other for summertime drinking. If it’s a summer wedding, a Christening, an anniversary, a birthday or just Thank God It’s The Weekend – it has to be champagne. Time to explore this most magnificent of drinks, which seems to have been created to be enjoyed in every location where we enjoy the delights of summer – from beach to ballroom.