Summer wine sales are markedly different than the harsh cold winter season wine sales. Summer wines are usually airy, light, fresh, cool and crisp, while winter wines are deeper, darker and more bracing.
In the summertime we need the crisp, clean flavors to tantalize our taste buds to the fresh fruits and vegetables, simple barbecue foods and delicious side dishes.
The finest summer wines mimic the great wines of the Mediterranean areas of Spain, Italy, and of course Greece! My favorite summertime wine is pinot grigio, the best selling Italian wine in the world. It is a slightly acidic wine that is perfect for picnic or barbecues. Serve it around 45 degrees to really get the perfect harmony of flavor and temperature. The mouth feel of the pinot grigio is refreshing. The best pinot grigio will dance over your tongue like little Italian foot soldiers. Sometimes you will detect a slight effervescence — but this is merely your sensory triggers going into overload as they are assaulted by the minerally, grapefruit flavors. I prefer the true Italian pinot grigios to the cheaper ones you find in California. Cheap imitations don’t have the same depth of character or flavor nuances that the finest Italians do.
You may also see pinot gris on the shelves or wine lists of your favorite establishments. This is the same grape, but usually pinot gris is from the Alsace region in France or the Pacific Northwest, especially Oregon. This is the same grape as the original pinot grigio. However, the wines from Alsace or Oregon are typically much more acidic and rich in flavor. They are really well made and are great with a wider variety of foods. However, they are usually a little drier and more serious wines!
I still prefer pinot grigio for everyday outdoor drinking. A few of my favorites are Bollini Pinot Grigio and Stella Pinot Grigio. Bollini is from the Trentino region of Italy and is made in stainless steel tanks to really bring out the fresh flavors. Stella is from the further south region of Sicily, and the warmer climate brings a fruitier aroma and flavor to it. It has essences of pears and citrus that pairs beautifully with all your summertime pasta salads and appetizers.
One of the most popular drinks this summer is sangria. I have more people coming in and trying premade sangria or they have found a great recipe for homemade sangria.
Sangria is the typical summertime drink in Spain and Portugal. It usually consists of red wine, chopped fruits, and brandy. You can use virtually any type of fruit you like. Oranges, limes, lemons, melons, berries, etc. can all be used.
The word sangria comes from the Iberian word for bloodletting because of its typical dark red color. There are a few different brands of premade sangria on the shelves now like Slices and Real Sangria. These are both excellent and inexpensive.
But it is always a little more fun to make your own. There are countless recipes you can find. One thing I recommend is to use a pretty good red wine and real Spanish brandy. The Spanish brandies will have the ideal characteristics you need to bring your sangria to the next level. Try the Torres brandy family for awesome flavors not only in sangria — but also in your favorite brandy cocktails!
With the 51st annual Original Greek Festival coming Aug. 22-24, I have to mention a great Greek wine. Moschofilero is becoming all the rage around the world. It is a very aromatic wine with spicy flavors and crisp acidity. The acidity makes it a perfect match with grilled Greek chicken and seafood! I love it ice cold while peering at the magnificent straw color as the wine glass gets slightly foggy from the interaction of warm summer air and cool delicious wine. I transport myself to a beautiful seaside port in my home country of Greece.
Greek wines have exploded on the world scene in the last few years. With Greece’s entry into the European Common Market, they have benefited from sharing techniques and also faster and better ways to market.
Although I love my beer and summer cocktails as much as the next guy, I still love to have a great bottle of wine on a summer night. Try a few different ones and enjoy the finer things in life!