Lighter, Crisper Wines For Summer Dining



Some summer wine suggestions.


By Louis Marmon


Washington Jewish Week  July 1, 2004


Cousino-Macul Dona IsadoraSummer is a great time to try different wines. “People move away from the oaky chardonnays and heavy reds when the warm weather arrives,” said Marty Meyrowitz, the owner of The Wine Harvest, “they prefer lighter, crisper whites and fruitier reds.” These types of wines have the acidity to be refreshing and to hold up to summer foods such as salads and barbeques. A large number of inexpensive wines perfect for summer entertaining are made from regions all over the world. In white wines, look for crisp acidity that tastes clean and refreshing. The red wines should be simple, young, and fruity. And be sure to chill both types of wine before serving.


I love serving Rieslings from Germany to arriving guests. The 2001 and 2002s are complex, spicy, well balanced and because they are underappreciated in the US, the reaction from my guests is invariably “wow.”  Rudolf Eilenz Riesling QbA Ayler Kupp 2002 is light and smooth with lemon and mineral notes. Karl Erbes Riesling Kabinett Urziger Wurzgarten 2002 has apple and pear flavors while the Eugen Wehrheim Riesling Spatlese Niersteiner Orbell 2002 has more citrus flavors.


For a summer brunch try a sparking wine such as a low-alcohol, slightly sweet Moscato d’Asti produced by either Coppo or Beccaris or the Montelliana Prosecco  with peach and lemon flavors which is a good alternative to champagne. A non-sparkling alternative is Powers Muscat Canelli 2003which is a slightly sweet wine with honey and pear flavors that would also work well with dessert.


With cheese or other appetizers such as dips and grilled veggies consider serving white wines from Italy. Three fine examples of the very popular Pinot Grigio are Ca’ Montini L’Arisocratico 2002, Tenuta S. Anna 2003, and Cantarutti Colli Oriental del Friuli 2001.   From Sicily the Corvo Bianco 2002 is dry with light pear flavors and from Piedmont the Castelvero Cortese 2003 has grapefruit flavors and a slight hint of minerals. Cantarutti Canto 2001 is produced in the north-east corner of Italy and it has apple, citrus and mineral notes with a nice clean finish.


Other good choices include Cousino-Macul Dona Isidora 2003 from Chile with pear and anise flavors and the Luna di Luna Pinot Grigio-Pinot Blanco 2002 a blend that is soft and has mild fruit and acidity. Coloma Viura Blanca 2003 from Spain has orange and honey flavors while the Domaine de la Croix Senaillet Saint-Veran 2002 is an unoaked white burgundy that has tastes of tangerine, lemon and grapefruit.


Sauvignon Blanc is a wonderful summer wine which works well with poached fish and other light meals. It develops diverse flavors depending upon the location of the vineyard.  From New Zealand try the Blind River Sauvignon Blanc 2002 which has tropical fruit and grass flavors with a crisp dry finish or the West Brook Sauvignon Blanc 2003 with passion fruit and more herbal tastes. One of my long-time favorites is Murphy-Goode Fume Blanc 2002 which is consistently fresh, light, dry and fruity. Domaine de la Garreliere Touraine Sauvignon Blanc Cendrillon 2002 produced in France’s Loire Valley is a spicier version of Sauvignon Blanc and has pear and apple flavors. From California’s Alexander Valley the de Lorimier “Spectrum” 2001 is made from Sauvignon Blanc, and smaller amounts of Semillion and Viognier. It is well balanced with pear, vanilla and mild spice flavors and a clean acidity that make it a good choice for spicy foods.


Rose wine is made by allowing the pigment containing skins to remain in contact with the clear pulp for only a short time. Best served cold and very young, they work well with grilled fish and salads dressed with fruit based vinaigrettes. Chateau Mas Neuf  Costieres de Nimes 2003 has framboise and dark cherry tastes while the Bonny Doon “Vin Gris de Cigare” 2003 possesses cherry and strawberry flavors. Beaujolias is another good choice as a summer wine. Try the Domanie de Boissieu Beaujolais 2002 which has plum and cherry flavors with a surprising hint of pepper. Make sure it is chilled and open it an hour before serving.


Grilled burgers and meat need a wine with more body such as the Concannon Petite Sirah 2001, a big jammy red with berry and plum flavors. From Spain, Castillo Labasida 2002 is very balanced with soft fruit while Puerta Vieja Crianza Reserva 2002 has more intense fruit with subtle oak. The Planeta Cerasuolo di Vittoria 2002 made in Sicily is a bit sharper but also well balanced with strawberry, cherry and slight chocolate flavors.  The Tenuta le Querce Aglianico del Vulture Il Viola 2000 tastes of dark fruit and pepper and the Colosi Sicilia 2002 has rich cherry and slightly pepper flavors with a nice finish. Prunotto Barbera Fiulot 2002 is lush and fruit filled with flavors of black cherries, figs and strawberries.

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