Summertime — the ultimate season to spend time dining al fresco or sipping on a patio. No matter what type of summer activity you plan on doing, here’s a list of top picks for must-sip wines.
Austria’s most widely planted white wine grape – Gruner Veltiner. Such a great summer varietal! This has a typical “green” taste of other Gruners, also citrus, ginger and a zesty finish with lots of minerality. This is a bright and fresh, yet full wine.
Some people get this varietal confused with Muscadine but these are VERY different things!! Muscadet is loved as an excellent food pairing wine and this is one of my favorite summer varietals! It’s from the Loire Valley of France and its grapes are grown near the ocean, so has a touch of sea salt to it. The lemon freshness, sea salt minerality, crisp spice and high acid make it pair perfectly with seafood.
This is a great lesser-known alternative from the Tokaj region in Hungary. Made from the Furmint grape, this is truly an under-appreciated varietal, which you don’t see often. It’s dry and crisp with a long finish and notes of orange, lemon and lime.
Vinho Verde is from the “evergreen” region in Portugal. This wine comes from vineyards near the Atlantic creating acidic, subtle, fresh and fruity wines. It’s named “Azahar”, meaning citrus flower in Arabic, a nod to its orange blossom aromas. It has a nice concentration to it due to the way it is aged.
Ameztoi produces wine from vineyards high on the seaside cliffs overlooking the Bay of Biscay in Spanish Basque country. This is a white table wine – bright, lively, and low-ABV – and is another one that works well with seafood. It’s slightly effervescent, which I love in a wine!
Viognier’s rich texture, citrus, tropical fruit, and haunting floral perfume have taken this traditional northern Rhône variety from near extinction in the 1960s to a now-popular varietal. This one from Paso Robles is a Viognier with a full body, buttery taste, and long finish.
Orvieto Classico is one of the best known white wines from Central Italy. Aged exclusively in stainless steel, this Orvieto is marked by bright citrus notes and persistent minerality. It is a classic Italian white, made from native varietals grown in vineyards surrounding the historic hilltop town of Orvieto. On the palate, it is fresh and full with good acidity balancing a long, lovely finish.
I know many of you think Sancerre (Sauvignon Blanc, from Sancerre) is the perfect summer wine! This Sancerre is full of light citrus notes, white nectarine and hints of sweetness. It’s full yet crisp on the palate – with lemon zest, bright acidity, and a little bit of salinity. This would be a great food wine but holds its own by itself!
This white wine from northwestern Spain is definitely one of my favorite white wines of all time. It hails from the region of Rías Baixas. The vines sit along the coast, which can be reflected in an oceanic or saline quality in the wines. Albariño is such an easy-drinking, lovable wine. I love recommending it because it’s accessible and affordable, and just delicious. It can be aromatic and fruity, often with notes of peaches, tropical fruits, melon, and citrus.
The entire category of chillable reds is perfect for summertime picnics and barbecues. The grapes for this Cinsault come from the oldest surviving Cinsault vineyard in the world. This is a light-bodied, low-ABV option. It’s very pale in color and serves up slight floral aromas on the nose.
Another lovely chilled red… I drank this the other night by the water, and it was perfection! It’s made in a traditional Beaujolais method with whole grapes being placed in the vat – no de-stalking or crushing. The wine has a gorgeous ruby color with red fruit aromas and tastes – raspberry, red currant, strawberry. Super easy to drink!
I hope this list inspires you to get out there and try something new! All of these wines pair well with picnics and the beach, so you’re set for summer.