Summer Sips

At this point, you probably know that I am enrolled in the Wine Studies program at BU.  I find wine to be a very mindful activity.  It’s one of the few things where you’re almost completely dependent upon your sense of smell to discern geography, chemistry, biology, and history.  I recommend wine classes to anybody who needs a good destressor – not for the drinking but more because it really gets you out of your head and thinking in a way that you probably never do – through your nose.  It’s mind blowing.

Since I’ve been asked for help & recommendations lately, here are some easy summer wine basics I’ve been sharing:

1. Don’t be deterred by a low price point – Many great Portuguese, Spanish, & German wines are at a great price point, not because they’re awful but because they’re not popular

2. Bottle color – The darker the bottle, the longer you can wait to drink it.  The clearer the bottle, the sooner you should drink it (rosés in particular).

3. A lot of mass market wines (Yellow Tail, etc.) made in the US or sent to the US market are loaded with extra sugar & sulfites.  These will get you buzzed faster but they will also give you an almost instantaneous headache.

4. Traditional rosés tend to be golden/light pink.  If you find a darker rosés, they had additional red wine added to them…which is not a bad thing in my book!

General Recommendations
1. Any vinho verdes  – They’re cheap, slightly effervescent, & tend to be light on alcohol, which is good for super hot days.  They’re excellent with seafood.

2. Any Basque wine – see above.  All the ones I’ve tried – regardless of color – tend to be on the lemony side.

3. Any French or Spanish Rosés – Very fruity (raspberry & strawberry) and tend go well with grilled meat, especially the darker wines.  I tend not to believe celebrity hype but Miraval, the Brangelina rosé is really good. 

4. Prosecco, Cava, & other non-Champagne sparklings – Often the growing conditions for this type of wine are better the further south you go.  Since they’re not from Champagne, the price point is often better.  They’re great bang for your buck fizzies.  Trader Joes has some great ones  – their $7 Prosecco tastes like green apples.  I am pretty sure their $5 house brand Blanc de Blanc is Perdrier from Burgundy.  Roederer Estate from California makes an excellent hostess gift.  These really do go with everything.

5. Gerwurztraminer – Any of them…I really like them with blueberries

6. Reds in the summer – I don’t have a lot of experience with these but I can say Spanish Grenaches & Northern Italian/Swiss reds can be really light.  They’re worth checking out.

Specific Recommendations
1. Veuve Cliquot Demi-Sec – This, hands down, is my favorite any time.  It’s a total splurge but not a ridiculous one.

2.  Charles Smith – He’s a former band manager who has reinvented himself as a vintner.  In general, music people tend to be food & wine people.  I get the impression he only makes what he likes to drink.  The only thing I didn’t dig was The Pinot Project but everything else is excellent.

3. Wine X/Beringer White Zinfandel – This gets knocked BIG TIME.  I don’t go out of my way to have it but it’s really not bad.  Last year, my wine class did a round table rosé tasting with wines from around the world at various price points.  This wine was in a black bag & everybody had to guess what it was.  Everybody thought “wine x”, the mystery rosé, was the best & most expensive one on the table – balanced, fruity, goes with everything.   When it was unveiled, everybody laughed.  We all agreed that there are reasons why this continues to be a best seller.  

Best Website for Wine Pairings & Wine Info – great website, super simple facts, excellent graphics. 

Hope these help a little.  If you have any recommendations or tips, please share in the comments – so much wine, so little time, you know?