Summer Wines

by Anna Ward

Summer Wines

Good wine enhances a meal, making both the food and the wine more enticing. And who wouldn’t want wine to elevate all the excellent flavors of high summer on Martha’s Vineyard?

Tips to Keep In Your Back Pocket:

  • Lighter bodied wines go with lighter foods: This is a simple trick that still allows you to be flexible in your choices. White wine is an obvious pick for grilled fish, but a delicate rosé or a light bodied Beaujolais would be a pairing to impress the guests.
  • Less alcohol means more: Less alcohol may mean another glass with dinner, but it also underscores tip number one (wines that are lighter bodied also tend to be lower in alcohol content). Nobody wants to be hit over the head with a high-octane wine on a humid summer night. Keep it around 13 percent or less and your hangover (or lack thereof) will thank you the next day.
  • Cool (but don’t freeze) your wines: It’s hot in the summer. Who wants to drink wine that is lukewarm? By slightly chilling the bottle (yes, even the reds) wine becomes even more enjoyable. Most wine should be served at a cool cellar temperature (55 degrees), including lighter bodied red wines like Beaujolais, which should be chilled down for at least 20 minutes before serving. White and rosé should be served slightly above the temperature of a refrigerator.

Wine Regions to Know:

  • The Basque, Spain - Txakoli (or Txakolina) is a slightly frizzante, searingly refreshing white or rosé, perfect for aperitifs after the beach on those hot, hot days. Also, these wines are ideal with fresh or fried seafood. Either way, you’ll be pouring glass after glass.
  • Rias Baixas, Spain - The crisp whites called Albarino from right along the coast of Spain seem to have the essence of salinity in the glass. Clean and elegant with notes of citrus.
  • The Loire Valley, France - There are so many styles of wine in the Loire, but we often get stuck just swilling Sancerre in the summer. Rosé of Cabernet Franc is food-friendly, light and very versatile. And you’d have a hard time finding a better pairing with oysters than Muscadet from the Western coast of France (a favorite in Parisian bistros in the summer months).
  • Beaujolais, France - Red wine from this region is 100 percent Gamay and my favorite red to serve in the summer. It is light in body, can be paired with just about anything (including seafood) and, assuming you can find a cru village wine, is serious enough to impress your oenophile friends.
  • Sicily, Italy - Frappato is a light red wine with fruit tones. Delicate and soft, this wine is often described as the Pinot Noir of Sicily. Perfect with a bold-flavored puttanesca.
  • Long Island, N.Y. - This region is getting a lot of attention for its well balanced and elegant Chardonnays and rosé. The wines are local, cool and refreshing.

Wine Pairings for this Issue:

  • Wild Rice Salad: Many wines could stand up to this recipe with its myriad of flavors. If serving this dish as lunch or a lighter course my choice would be a dry Lambrusco, a sparkling red wine from Emilia-Romagna. This light, frothy wine is refreshing with a delicate strawberry nose and a bitter rhubarb-like, thirst-quenching finish.
  • Anchovies: Anchovies are one of the foods thought to be impossible to pair with a wine. My first inclination would be to go with a Txakolina from the Basque region in Spain (which also happens to produce anchovies). The bright, slightly frizzante, saline wine is pure and clean, washing over the palate after each bite.
  • Lobster Roll: Lobster rolls are the epitome of summer food; casual, fun and delicious. Which is why, although many wines could pair with the buttery roll and creamy lobster salad, I would have to pick a wine that doesn’t take itself too seriously. A bright, unoaked Chardonnay from Long Island keeps it local or a rosé from Provence elevates the meal without outshining the roll.
  • Fish and Chips with homemade tartar: This needs a wine to stand up to, while at the same time cutting through the heavenly rich texture of the fried fish and tartar sauce. Viura from Rioja is a white wine with weight that also has a nice dose of minerality and acidity, cutting through the richness of the dish with ease and harmonizing the flavors together.