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  • Quentin Von Essen

Summer Lovin' - Top Summer Varieties

Summer – the season of lazy days endless picnics, BBQ's, long lunches, warm alfresco evenings and poolside aperitifs!


With the change to warmer temperatures, so too comes a change in our drinking habits. Think crisp, refreshing white wines – lighter, fruit and acid-driven dry or slightly off-dry whites served well chilled. These are wines that are compatible with salads, shellfish, seafood, pasta, fresh cheese, anti-pasta and white meats.

Don’t forget the reds! With the warmer weather, you may well be reaching for a Rosé or a glass of white and thinking of shelving your reds for the Summer. However, you shouldn’t be abandoning these red wines so quickly. Many red wines have qualities that work well in the hot weather, lighter, with lower alcohol levels, higher acidity and subtle tannins.

Chilled red wines can be wonderful on a hot Summer day. Many Australian Pinot Noirs can be lightly chilled without losing personality and character, and grapes such as Gamay, Sangiovese, Barbera and Grenache that originated in Mediterranean climates, are just perfect for drinking in warm weather. While Shiraz doesn't fit the profile of a light-bodied red, it's the exception to the rule and the ultimate Summer BBQ wine.

Summer’s best wines are typically the ones in my and your glass at the time. At least, that is the way it should be, but how to find the best Summer wine is really a matter of personal preference.

To help you reach for the perfect bottle every time, we’ve compiled a selection of wines to get you through the season...

In the New World of whites, there aren’t many surprises. Sauvignon Blanc with its crisp, herbal edge and refreshing acidity gets a thumbs up from many wine drinkers, but there are so many other great Summer wines from which to choose.

Chardonnay – the diva of differences. To beat the heat, choose an unoaked Chardonnay without the heavy, buttery texture of malolactic fermentation. It’s a simple and effective way to compete with the warmer temperatures and superb with shellfish such as crab and prawns, grilled fish, chicken dishes, pasta and risottos.

As a tangy, dry white wine that is perfectly light and fresh with fruity flavours such as pear, apple and melon, Pinot Gris is a Summer wine through and through and can be paired with a variety of food with ease.

With its fresh, tropical fruit characters, un-oaked style, and sheer drinkability, Australian Verdelho is very much the crowd-pleaser and perfect when served with a host of spicy Asian cuisines including Thai, Vietnamese and Malaysian dishes, or simply enjoyed on its own on a warm day. While it is widely grown throughout Australia, the Hunter Valley consistently produce some of the best examples of this variety.

With or without food, as a pre-dinner drink or as a refresher at the end of a long, hot day, Hunter Valley Semillon is the wine to drink this Summer. Naturally low in alcohol and almost devoid of residual sugar, Hunter Semillon is the ideal partner for the season's lighter fish and seafood meals. When young, it's great with fresh oysters, cold cooked prawns and simply cooked white-fleshed fish. With some age, it is wonderful when served with smoked trout or salmon, roast chicken, lobster with burnt butter and other flavoursome dishes.

A glass of Sparkling Wine is always appropriate, regardless of the time of year (or time of day). But in Summer a glass of bubbly feels almost mandatory. The wine’s temperature and the bubbles themselves make it a refreshing, cooling beverage, and its high acidity makes it perfectly suited to Summer foods such as ham, salads, chilled soups and a variety of seafood.

Rosé undeniably took first place as last year’s drink of the season and continues to be everywhere this Summer, especially when seafood such as tuna or swordfish is on the menu. This wine is also the perfect partner to barbecued prawns, Moreton Bay bugs and eggplant skewers.

This Summer make sure you try something new – a variety you have never tried before. When you pair Summer whites with Summer foods in the company of good friends and loved ones, you just can’t go wrong.

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