The Best Wines for Summer
It’s one of life’s great dilemmas! What to drink by the pool, on the terrace or lounging on a lawn under the shade of a straw hat, looking up at a cloudless sky?
Summer is about drinking wines with real purity and luminosity – wines that are not necessarily over-complex and weighty but that enhance the carefree, dreamy days of our holidays.
Our friendly wine guy Stan Park shared his tips for the best summer tipples.
There’s a big difference between wines that work outside as a refreshing drink and wines to go with lunch or dinner. A glass on its own outside needs to have quite a positive character, a certain amount of scent and fruit, yet still enough acidity to be refreshing.
Standalone wines that work well outside include Sauvignon Blanc with its elderflower and cut-grass character, but consider also Dry Muscat, Torrontes and Vermentino – all have plenty of summer scents. Or look also at Riesling; some of the hotels have an aged Dry Riesling from The Lone Birch Winery in Washington State – an absolutely lovely, contemplative wine to have on its own in the middle of the afternoon sitting in the dappled shade of a tree. It changes every time you put it to your lips – sometimes soft, sometimes crystalline and with its lime-zest character to the fore, it's a wonderful afternoon companion.
There’s nothing wrong with putting ice in a glass of simple wine, or turning it into a long drink with soda and even adding a flavour such as rhubarb, mint or elderflower, as long as the wine has good acidities and is itself fairly neutral. An Aperol Spritz is a great example of a refreshing long wine drink.
If you’re lunching on a terrace, in the shade (eating a light salad or some poached fish, perhaps), then coastal wines – wines that taste of the sea – work so well. Picpoul from Mediterranean France, Albarino from Galicia, Grillo from Sicily: these wines have an almost salty tang that makes them invigorating and refreshing.
Then, of course, there are rosé wines. One that you will see around the hotels is Mon Rosé from the Coste family at Domaine Montrose in the Côtes de Tongue in the Languedoc: pale but surprisingly full in flavour from Cabernet and Syrah. The Costes have been on this farm since 1702 and their wonderful family crest of three salamanders adorns the label.
There is also Paradis Rosé from Domaine Preignes le Vieux by Jerome Vic. Paler and more delicate, it is beautifully presented in a tall, elegant bottle with an equally elegant glass stopper. Both are serious wines that match Mediterranean food very well and a bottle served in an ice bucket, wonderfully chilled with beads of condensation glinting in the sun, is one of life’s simple, great pleasures.
If evening temperatures do not drop and the thought of heavy red wines is too much, perhaps have a cold fino sherry with some salted almonds to start, and consider whites that have a degree of weight that emulates reds – think about varieties such as Rousanne, Viognier and Pinot Gris: white wines with substance and rich presence and yet an element of freshness when chilled.
Sappy, vibrant, youthful reds can be served cool – our Morgon from Englishman James Wilding, our more junior red Burgundies, NZ Pinot and wine styles such as straightforward Chianti can certainly be served cool if not positively chilled. These sort of wines go well with robust red meat salads and chargrilled meat served on leaves, and even with grilled oily fish including mackerel and sardines.
Read more about food and drink at Luxury Family Hotels.