Food & Wine Thursdays: The Wines of Summer Redux

I apologize. I’ve been running around like that proverbial decapitated chicken this week so in lieu of a new article, please enjoy this informative bit of vintage Satellite Show agitprop.

This article was originally published on April 15, 2010.

It’s summer time (soon) and the living is easy; and if you think Brad Nowell wrote that lyric, expect a pair of balls on your forehead sometime in your sleep. You won’t know it happened except for an odd feeling of unease and cosmic angst in the morning.

Inducing a personal existential crisis, however, is not my primary objective today. My goal is to introduce y’all to the pleasures of summer time wine drinking. Forget the margaritas and the coronas and the cosmos and whatever drink that guy buys you pool side at The Standard–wine is the quintessential summertime drink.

A light white wine, amply chilled, provides the refreshing pleasure of a beer with more class than a cocktail. Gulp it by the red plastic party cup-full. Plus here’s The Satellite Show’s CosmoGirl Summer Bikini Tip: wine has fewer calories and carbohydrates ounce-for-ounce than any other beer or cocktail, short of shots of straight vodka. That way you can get passed-out drunk in the kiddie pool while keeping a body that’s the envy of the secretary pool. Plus, your drooling drunken maw will smell of stone fruits and citrus instead of evil and the ashtray on the floor of the last stall in the bathroom of a Moscow discotheque. Bonus!

It’s not just white wines for hot summer days! Nothing goes better with that homoerotic ritual of male bonding, grillin’ sausages, than a big fruity red wine. Grill up some meats with your  buddies and grab a glass of Syrah while the ladies make potato salad in the kitchen. It’s okay, nobody’s looking.

Now, some recommendations.

Vinho Verde – a lighter style of (mostly) white wine from northern Portugal. A perfect all-day drinker since it’s lower in alcohol (8%-11% abv) and slightly effervescent. It’s readily available in the summer time from most reputable wine-mongers for typically $10 or less a bottle. Styles range from bone dry to semi-sweet. Uncork that shit by the case.

Txakoli – another spritzy lower alcohol wine, this one from the Basque region of northern Spain, a language which heavily uses the letter X since Scrabble is the national sport. Softer and less citrus-y than Vinho Verde, good Txakolis have a great long mineral-y finish. Due to increasing demand and limited supply, most Txakolis will set you back at least $20.

Albarino – here’s yet another Iberian white wine. California makes (generally) crappy white wine. Spain and Portugal is Europe’s sexy party land and they don’t have the hang-ups that the average American wine consumer does about white wine. White wine is manly and delicious. It also smells like flowers. Albarinos  are largely from Rias Baixas in Spain’s Galicia region, directly north of the Vinho Verde region of Portugal. It’s a dry white wine that’s typically fairly fragrant. The good ones have a green apple tartness, the lesser ones taste more like lime and granite (but not in a bad way). Widely available at reputable wine shops.

Red Wines:
Malbec – this (mostly) Argentinean wine is perfect for barbecues. It’s big and spicy, but unlike many other big red wines it’s ready to go as  soon as you pop the cork. Great with grilled vegetables, burgers, sausages, steaks and even grilled chicken.

Zinfandel – the California original (except that it came from Croatia), Zinfandel is fantastic with out-of-doors cuisine. Generally a big, juicy red wine with lots of blackberry and raspberry fruit characteristics, the better examples also have peppery spice and a forest-floor-after-a-rain earthiness. Forget the bbq sauce, just glaze your chicken with some Zin.

Where can I buy these wines, you ask? I’d first suggest your friendly local neighborhood wine merchants. If you live in California, feel free to hit me up for a recommendation. Of the chain grocers, if you absolutely must, Whole Foods typically has the best wine selection and should have all of the above types. If you’re desperate and/or live in rural Alaska (or both), there are many very cool online wine shops like Plonk Wine Merchants, which ship to most states worth living in.


About David D.

I'm a wine professional. Like a real one who makes most of his living in wine and have for most of my adult life. I also write, but you can see that.
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