Summer Loving Wines
Summer is here and with it, warmer days spent enjoying family, good friends and (of course) good wine.
Australian summers were made for enjoying wine. Balmy evenings, sun-drenched beach picnics, garden parties, al fresco lunches and barbecues all call for the perfect drop. Although there is no single definition of a perfect summer wine, some varietals tend to suit the warmer weather better than others.
How to find the best summer-time wines is a matter of preference and each wine lover’s ultimate quest for summer’s ideal wine. Instead of bold, rich, tannic wines, seek out lighter-bodied reds, whites and rosés with a fruit-forward profile and plenty of acidity for a more refreshing, crisp flavour. To help you reach for the perfect bottle every time, we’ve compiled a selection of wines to take you through the season.
When it comes to white wines, think crisp, refreshing wines – lighter, simpler, fruit and acid-driven dry or slightly off-dry whites served well chilled. Also, time spent on oak makes for heavier wines, so seek out unoaked whites to keep things light.
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 wine drinkers, as does Pinot Gris, which deserves a spot at the table year-round – but is practically born for drinking during the summer months. 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 just perfect with light foods such as pasta, grilled or roast chicken, fish and delicate seafood such as tuna and shrimp.
While Chardonnay is a wonderful wine to be enjoyed all year round, the warmer months are the perfect time to get to know the world’s most popular white wine. The Hunter Valley produces rich, ripe Chardonnay wines, with beautiful freshness and vitality and excellent when paired with roast chicken, grilled fish, or crayfish on the BBQ.
As a full-bodied white wine that is much loved for its perfumed aromas of peach, tangerine and honeysuckle, Viognier is pure summer in a bottle. It’s also a fabulous food wine that goes with everything from Northern African or spicy Asian cuisine to light meats such as pork and veal, rich shellfish dishes such as seared scallops and grilled lobster, sweet root vegetables and is perfectly at home with a cheese plate.
With its fresh, tropical fruit characters, un-oaked style and sheer drinkability, Verdelho is very much the crowd-pleaser and is well-matched 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 is ideal for early consumption.
With or without food, as a pre-dinner drink or as a refresher at the end of a long, sweltering 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.
An ancient grape, with its history stretching back to the days of the Roman Empire, Fiano wines can range in style from light and fresh to full-bodied and rich. Its love of hot and dry climates has seen it thrive in wine-producing regions such as the Hunter Valley and is the perfect wine for the warmer weather and suits a range of Asian and seafood dishes.
Frivolous and fruity, Rosé is everything you want and everything you need in the warmer months. The good thing about Rosé wine is that it is ready to be enjoyed at any time, and there is a style for every palate. Characterised by their light body and crisp finish, they are the ideal wine for summer, perfect when served with seafood such as tuna, barbecued prawns or swordfish.
DON’T FORGET THE REDS
Just because the temperature is rising and the layers are coming off and staying off, there is no need to leave the red wines on the rack. A change in the season simply means a change in red wine style – out with the big, rich and the powerful; in with the elegant, the fragrant, the refreshing. Many red wines are excellent on a hot summer day, and Pinot Noir is the typical go-to warm-weather wine and can be lightly chilled without losing personality and character. Other varieties such as Gamay, Sangiovese, Barbera and Grenache that originated in Mediterranean climates are also perfect for drinking in warm weather.
A SPARKLING SUMMER
Sparkling Wine might very well be the wine world’s best answer to summer heat. Of course, 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 is 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 soup and a variety of seafood. Shiraz fans don’t lose out either with a sparkling style that Australia has made its own, fits into so many events and is well matched to a variety of breakfast dishes. You can also pair with roast turkey, roast duck, glazed ham, barbecued ribs, cheese plates and chocolate mousse.
Make your summer even more sensational this year by treating yourself to a whole new world of wine with a delicious varietal with which you are not altogether familiar. Whatever you decide, when you match summer wines with summer foods in the company of good friends, you really can’t go wrong.
Find our Summer Loving Top Drops here.