Best Wines To Pair With Summer Fun

It’s summertime, and the livin’s easy. The immortal words of Ella Fitzgerald….or Sublime, depending on your taste in music.  Both have their place in long, sunny days and warm, breezy evenings that stretch late into the night. And what better way to enjoy summer than by spending time outside with loved ones?  Pair with that the perfect bottle of wine for every summer occasion and you’re sure to build memories to last a lifetime. 

But why drink the same old wine all the time?  Part of the joy of wine is in tasting through the literal myriad of options to find new favorites. Here we will explore the best (possibly unexpected) wines to pair with warm weather activities.

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It is my firm belief that you should drink what you like, regardless of how many points a wine has been given or how much the bottle costs. That said, the earmark of any true wine enthusiast is a willingness to explore new wines and taste outside their comfort zone.  The fun is in the exploration!  Wine, like life, is a journey and not a destination.  The wines shared here vary drastically in price point, region and style. But they have one commonality; the ability to turn a good summer day into a great summer day.

Let us start with the most ubiquitous summer activity: the classic backyard BBQ. The champion of all summer activities, this is the perfect arena in which to corral family and friends for good times and merriment. Burgers, hot dogs, chips & potato salad are classics of the BBQ, but depending on your prerogative there could be other staples.  Perhaps roasted oysters or a whole roasted pig make their way into your gathering. Or ribs, steaks and elotes.  For this wide variance of options there are an equal number of wines that could possibly work well for this occasion, but let us focus on a wine from each of the following categories: red, white, rosé & sparkling.

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Red: Phipps Family Cellars 2013 Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, CA

This is a big, full-bodied wine that can easily stand up to heartier foods like burgers, roasted pork, ribs and steaks. But be sure to decant it first and keep it at the optimal serving temperature of around 65°F. This is best for cool summer evenings spent under the stars.

White: William Fèvre 2015 ‘Champs Royaux’ Chablis, Chablis, France

A classic pairing with oysters, this Chablis also goes well with grilled shrimp, light pasta dishes and warm summer afternoons.

Rosé: Château des Bertrands 2016 ‘Elegance’ Rosé, Provence, France

From the spiritual homeland of rosé, Provence, France, this wine has a hint more weight on the palate than typical rosés from Provence, making it perfect to pair with just about anything.

Sparkling: Jansz Tasmania NV Premium Cuvée, Tasmania

A beautiful bubbly from an unexpected part of the world, this wine exhibits excellent balance between richness and freshness. Drink as an aperitif or pair with grilled chicken, salad or fruit-laden desserts.

The first thing many of us think of when summer rolls around is getting ourselves to the closest beach pronto.  After a long winter, a day at the beach is a much needed way to re-establish optimal Vitamin D levels.  

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So what are the best wines to bring to the beach? My recommendation is light wine sealed with a Stelvin closure (screw cap) so there is no need to bring a corkscrew. Just a blanket, bottle of wine and some plastic wine glasses equal everything you need to have a fantastic beach experience. All of the wines below are sealed with the Stelvin closure and are just waiting on you to enjoy!

Red: Patton Valley 2015 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR

Best served with a bit of a chill, this red is perfect for lounging under an umbrella on a sunny beach. Light and bright with loads of fruit and balanced earthiness, this is an excellent example of boutique Oregon Pinot Noir.

White: Zoetic 2014 ‘Grazioso’ Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Valley, CA

Made in the fume blanc style, this wine has hints of French oak giving it a silky texture and succulent tropical flavors. Bright and fresh, this is sunshine in a bottle.

Rosé: Pratsch 2016 Organic Rosé, Austria

While Austria may not be the first place you think of when it comes to rosé, this is an absolutely delicious wine is made from the local varietal Zweigelt. Packed with red, black and blue fruits, you couldn’t ask for a more refreshing rosé.

Sparkling: Saracco 2016 Moscato d’Asti, Piemonte, Italy

A very lightly sweet sparkling that is a crowd pleaser for sure. Refreshing, effervescent and dangerously easy drinking, this lower alcohol wine will ensure you can enjoy yourself without worrying about accidentally over-indulging.

One of the most fun summer events is attending an outdoor concert or movie screening. Often, attendees are allowed to bring the wine and food of their choice, which allows for each group to personalize their experience.  Typical fare includes cheese, charcuterie and fruit along with salad or sandwiches. Below are some of the best options to pair with these foods and embracing everything summer has to offer.

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Red: Château de Poncié 2014 Fleurie, Beaujolais, France

Cru Beaujolais is, as a general rule, is not only an amazing value, but also offers the high level of complexity and enjoyment as its neighbors in Burgundy. Cru Beaujolais is light years ahead of Beaujolais Nouveau in terms of quality. Incidentally, its defined structure and excellent acidity make it perfect to pair with charcuterie. Serve slightly chilled!

White: Pyramid Valley 2015 ‘Lion’s Tooth’ Chardonnay, Canterbury, New Zealand

Three words describe this wine: Oh. My. God. An absolutely stunning Chardonnay that is akin to the best white Burgundies. This is not a wine you taste, this is a wine you experience. Best served with reverence and awe.

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Rosé: Keller Estate 2015 Pinot Noir Rosé, Sonoma Coast, CA

This wine is everything one would hope to receive from a rosé of Pinot Noir from Sonoma Coast. Luminous and refreshing, this wine is jammed full of fresh red fruits. Pair with salads, young cheese and strawberries & cream.

Sparkling: Champagne Henriot NV Blanc de Blanc, Champagne, France

 Rich, full bodied and unique, one whiff of this champagne will have you sitting at a café in Paris, enjoying an almond croissant and a glass of this bubbly. Pair with anything from fried chicken to oysters to creamy cheeses & charcuterie.

When the weather warms up enough to be outside all day and all night camping is often the best way to take advantage of long days and warm nights. It can be healing for many to spend some time in nature, away from the stresses of every day life.  It simplifies things. Activities, meals and time spent together focus on the uncomplicated parts of life. With this mindset, these wines are easy to enjoy, but are anything but boring.

Red: Tenuta di Ghizzano 2014 ‘Il Ghizzano’, Costa Toscana, Italy

The magic in this Sangiovese-based blend is in its sophistication. Bold enough to stand up to grilled foods, yet elegant enough to enjoy on its own.  It is unpretentious and delicious!

White: Passaggio 2016 Unoaked Chardonnay, Carneros, CA

 Unoaked Chardonnay is growing rapidly in popularity as more and more people are discovering how varied in style Chardonnay can be.  Medium bodied with fresh Granny Smith apple and peach lead to notes of honey and a lovely minerality. Perfect to enjoy with freshly caught grilled fish and vegetables.

Rosé: Bodega Bueyyes 2105 Sparkling Rosé of Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina

Fun and intense with aromas of cherries, raspberries and rose petal with nectarine, peach and hints of fine herbs on the palate. Easy to enjoy on its own or with grilled meats, seafood or sandwiches.

Sparkling: Red Tail Ridge 2015 Pétillant Naturel, Finger Lakes, NY

Pétilliant Naturel (pét-nat) refers to the winemaking process which allows the wine to naturally ferment in the bottle with indigenous yeast and no human intervention. This means that each bottle attains its own unique personality.  This leads to a fun, dynamic experience no matter how many bottles are opened!

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As mentioned previously, a large part of enjoying wine is in discovering new favorites. And the best way to do that is to pair wine with an experience either new or a long held tradition.  The most important thing is to share both the wine and the experience with those near and dear to you. Now get out there, and make the most of summertime!

Courtesy of guest blogger, Sommelier Meghan Vandette

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