It’s officially summer in the northern hemisphere – hot and sunny (unless you are here in San Francisco), and my very favorite time for eating: bright salads, cold soups, seafood, and grilling in the backyard. Tomatoes and Meyer lemons are in season, along with spicy greens, summer squashes, and my all-time favorite: figs.
Some people pair this fresh fare with a frosty beer, and some break out the margarita mix. For the wine lover, it’s all about something bright, high in acid, citrusy, and maybe slightly spritzy. Something that looks classy with your sun hat, your sarong, and your toes in the sand. Luckily, every major wine region in the world seems to have the perfect answer to your palate’s summery needs, so we’ve got you covered no matter where you’re traveling.
The Kiwis have this perfect-for-summer wine thing down to a science. When you saddle up to a salad, make sure you order a Sauvignon Blanc from their Marlborough region. It’ll be high acid and high fun, with notes of grass and maybe even jalapeno. Impress your friends by telling them you also taste a hint of gooseberry.Image: Steve Attwood
Sure, Australia has Sauvignon Blanc too. But my favorite summery sipper in Australia comes from Clare Valley, the oldest wine-producing region in the country, just 120 kilometers from Adelaide. Clare Valley is well known for producing Riesling that, in the right vintage under the right hands, can rival the best from Alsace or Germany. With a little bit of residual sugar, an Aussie riesling is going to be just what you need to wash down some spicy shrimp from right off the barbie.Image: amandabhslater
Not going to lie: the Spanish are probably drinking a whole lot of beer now that they’re celebrating their World Cup success. The revelry will subside, and soon leisurely glasses of wine with late night tapas will return. I have two favorites for hot weather wines: first, get thee some Txakoli (aka Txakolina). Coming from the Basque region, this is a high acid, slightly floral, ridiculously food-friendly wine that is starting to enjoy somewhat of a renaissance. My other suggestion is a bit of a wildcard: Manzanilla Sherry. I won’t give a lecture on how it’s made (which is why it’s so delicious), but I can’t imagine anything better than sitting at an outdoor cafe with the sea breeze in my hair as I eat boquerones and drink briny, funky, delicious Manzanilla Sherry.Image: scaredy kat
Portugal’s summer wine has been pretty popular outside of Europe for a while now. Vinho Verde is the bright, fun, slightly bubbly wine that I recently heard described as ‘a semi-intellectual’s lemonade’. Hailing from the northern Minho region of Portugal, and literally translating to ‘green wine’, it’s affordable and delicious… what more could you want? If you’re feeling extra-fancy, you can even find Vinho Verde Rose, as Vinho Verde can contain just about any blend of the native Portuguese grapes.Image: Montemaior
It’s pretty hard to pick just one type of wine in France to suggest, but here I go. My favorite French wine for pairing with summery meals as you galavant across the Loire Valley is Muscadet. Made from the grape Melon de Bourgogne in Nantes, this is a slightly briny, slightly flowery, absolutely enjoyable wine. And if you happen to be in Burgundy, the ‘melon’ is making a comeback in its native land as Bourgogne de Vezelay. Here it will be less acidic than its cousin from the colder Loire Valley, but still delicious.Image: acrib
Austria is home of the absolute most perfect picnic wine. Don’t believe me? I’ve got six words for you: litre bottle with crown cap closure [Ed note: Methinks this means bottle top for us lushes]. Yep, a full liter of wine with a top that only requires a beer bottle opener. And it’s filled with Gruner Veltliner, a mineral-laced, citrusy, peachy, ridiculously drinkable summer delight. Added bonus: Gruner Veltliner is also grown in the Czech Republic.Image: BlogMarna
Life can sometimes be hard, like the times you don’t know what wine to drink on your sailboat as you skip along the Greek Isles [Ed note: Right, EXACTLY like that]. Never fear, NileGuide Foodie is here! Stop in Santorini and get some Assyrtiko. Grown in volcanic soils, this most versatile of the Greek grapes is acidic, citrusy, delicious, and very food friendly.Image: travelinknu
Here’s where it gets really tricky, because we have thousands (I wish I was exaggerating) of different grape varieties to pick from in Italy. So I pick the one with the name that is most fun to say: Garganega. See, it’s fun, right? It’s also the principal grape in the Veneto’s Soave, a very popular Italian wine that pairs oh-so-perfectly with the Mediterranean sun and a lovely summer time meal. Buon appetit!
Do you have other favorite summer wines? Or, perhaps, favorite producers of the wines I’ve mentioned above? I’d love to hear all about them in the comments. Happy summer sipping!