With the Memorial Day weekend behind us, a busy barbecue season lies ahead. The grill is in perpetual use from June through August and these affordable summer wines show that summertime is THE time for al fresco eating and warm-weather sipping.
If you drink Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, seek out a unique wine from Chile called Sauvignon Gris to pair with salty chips and fiery guacamole. Tracing its roots to the Bordeaux area of France, cuttings of the rare vines made their way to Chile where they have found a home. For seven generations Chile’s most historic winery, Cousiño Macul, has been producing world class wines. Their Sauvignon Gris is small in production, but big on flavor. Juicy, succulent fruit flavors along with a crisp, refreshing finish create pinpoint balance. Named for the Cousiño matriarch, Isadora, and displaying her personal crest on the label, it’s a regal yet fun white perfect for summer fare.
Drink pink when the weather turns warm and you’ll be happy. Dry Rosé is the hottest thing in wine today with growth in the double digits. This cheerful version from the respected Saget family of France’s Loire Valley, is light and lower in alcohol. It’s an ideal wine with spicy fare such shrimp in a tangy, piquant dipping sauce. Made from Pinot Noir grapes mostly grown in the northern Loire Valley with a splash thrown in from warmer climes of Southern France, the well-balanced wine showcases brightness paired with ripe fruitiness.
Want to take a vinous vacation this summer? Discover Sicily. The largest island in the Mediterranean is dream destination of coastal beaches towered over by snow-capped Mt. Etna. Wines from white to red and pink to sparkling offer some of the best values on the market. Sicily is the historic home of a fortified wine called Marsala, from the city of the same name on the island’s west Coast. Indigenous variety, Grillo (pronounced Greel-o), is a grape that used to go into Marsala but is now standing on its own and making unique whites that WOW. Showcasing mineral, citrus-fruited aromas with a zesty mouthfeel, Grillo is grilled fish’s best friend. The Stemmari, clocking in at a mere $6, is a best-buy bargain to stock up for a season of summertime parties.
This is what I call a twice-the-price wine. The quality is very high and along with stylish packaging, you would easily pay double its price tag. Named in honor of vintner Joseph Carr’s father, Josh, this is a sumptuous combination of Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah. With a dark fruit flavors and a spicy kick, there isn’t a better wine to saddle up next to barbeque ribs and steaks hot off the grill. What’s fun about Legacy, however, is that you can easily make it your Father’s Day gift. Go online to their website and for free you can customize and order a back label with your father’s name on it. They’ll mail it to you to put on a bottle. I’ll raise a glass to that…and to Dads everywhere!
Capturing a “Luxe for Less” look is easy with this Spanish Cava. The retro-chic bottle looks like it costs far more than it does and the wine inside tastes the same. Made with native grapes such as Macabeo and Parellada in the traditional method for sparkling wine (aged in the bottle), this bubbly is lush and luxurious. The winery, located in the northeastern Penedès region of Spain, is known for affordable sparkling with this glamorous flagship bottle anchoring the lineup. It’s a MUST-BUY for lovers of high-quality sparkling wine.
Use this list as your go-to to choose your summer wines and entertain all season long, either lounging by the pool, sipping at the beach or hanging at a backyard barbecue. There’s something here for everyone!
Check me out with Kathie Lee and Hoda on the Today Show, pairing these amazing wines with the perfect summer food.