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  • Quentin Von Essen

Summer Lovin’ Wines

With the change to warmer Summer temperatures, so too comes a shift in our drinking habits. Think crisp, refreshing white wines—lighter, simpler, fruit and acid-driven dry or slightly off-dry whites, served well chilled.

But don’t discount the reds altogether as chilled red wines can be wonderful on a hot day – especially during a hot Australian Summer. 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.

How to find the best Summer-time wine is a matter of preference and each wine lover’s ultimate quest for Summer’s ideal wine. To help you reach for the perfect bottle every time, we’ve compiled a selection of wines to take you through the season.

Rosé undeniably took first place as last year’s drink of the Summer and the pink wine continues to be everywhere this Summer, especially when seafood such as tuna, barbecued prawns or swordfish is on the table.

In the new world of whites, there aren’t too many surprises, and Sauvignon Blanc with its crisp, herbal edge and refreshing acidity never fails to get a thumbs up from many wine drinkers, as does Pinot Gris. Originally from the vineyards of Burgundy, this tangy, dry, light white wine with fresh fruity flavours such as pear, apple and melon, is a Summer wine through and through and is fast becoming one of the country’s most popular white wines and can be paired with a variety of food with ease.

Summer in a bottle! Viognier is a full-bodied white wine that is much loved for its perfumed aromas of peach, tangerine and honeysuckle. It’s also a fabulous food wine which goes with everything from the spicy northern African to Asian cuisine, from white meat to reds meat and with all the earthy flavours and textures such as mushrooms and root vegetables, plus it’s just at home with a cheese plate.

Originating from the Portuguese island of Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Morocco, Verdelho’s suitability for Mediterranean-style climates with warm-hot, dry Summers makes it a perfect fit for Australian Summers.

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, or simply enjoyed kicking back by the pool. While it is widely grown throughout Australia, the Hunter Valley consistently produce some of the best examples of this variety with pristine aromas and flavours and ideal for early consumption.

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. It's a great accompaniment to vegetarian foods, too. When young, it's great with fresh oysters, cold cooked prawns and simply cooked white- fleshed fish. With some age, it is lovely when served with smoked trout or salmon, roast stuffed chicken, lobster with burnt butter and other flavoursome dishes.

While Chardonnay makes for great drinking all year round, the warmer months are the perfect time to really get to know the world’s most popular white wine. To beat the heat, with Chardonnay, 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 great with a crunchy salad, sushi and sashimi; crayfish or lobster on the BBQ, steamed or grilled fish and it is heaven on earth with fresh oysters.

Sparkling Wine might very well be the wine world’s best answer to Summer heat. 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 them ideally suited to Summer foods such as ham, salads, chilled soups and a variety of seafood.

This Summer, why not try something new – a variety you are not altogether familiar with? You have a world of choice... whatever you decide, when you match Summer whites with Summer foods in the company of good friends, you just can’t go wrong.

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