We had such fun chatting about spring and summer wines on CTV’s The Social yesterday!
Are the wines we drink in the winter that different from the ones we drink in the spring and summer?
· Yes, most people’s drinking habits change with the seasons.
· We typically drink heavy, alcoholic, heavily oaked wines in the winter because they comfort us and keep us warm.
· “Drink what you like” remains in effect no matter the weather, but for most people, lighter drinking in the summer generally means more consumption of white wines.
LIGHT & COLD
This time of year always makes me think of rose because every May, I’d head to the south of France for the Cannes Film Festival and all we would drink for two weeks was rose. Why do you like it for spring and summer?
· Roses and Rieslings are lighter wines. They have lower alcohol levels but they’re big in flavor.
· They’re mouth-watering and juicy so they whet your appetite, which means they work great in the heat as a chilled aperitif.
· Both of these wines you serve chilled, as opposed to the reds we get in the winter.
Gérard Bertrand Côte des Roses Rosé
Languedoc, Midi A.P., France
How much does terroir or climate influence these wines?
· Rieslings form in cool climates like Canada, Germany, Washington State in the U.S., and New Zealand.
· Yeast + sugar = alcohol so the more sugar you have, the more alcohol you’ll have. What puts sugar into grapes? Sun and warm weather. The cool climate doesn’t allow the grapes to ripen as much which means less sugar is infused in the wine. That creates a wine that’s lower in alcohol.
· The roses are typically from Provence, Rhone and Canada. Rose is now bone-dry in style. In fact, Provence doesn’t make any sweet ones.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling
Columbia Valley, Washington, United States
SUMMER PRODUCE PAIRING
What I like about this time of year Natalie, is that we trade our heavy comfort foods for lighter fare like seafood and salads. What wines pair best with these lighter foods?
· Sauvignon Blanc and Gruner Veltliner have great acidity for palate cleansing. Acidity is to wine what salt is to food – it brings forward the flavor. Don’t be afraid of a wine’s acidity; it’s your friend when it comes to food pairing.
· Like the cool climate wines above, these wines also have less alcohol. It’s a tradeoff between ripeness and acidity. Remember, the less alcohol, the less ripe the grape. But lower alcohol content preserves the acidity and crispness of the grape.
· Both of these types of wines are also bone-dry with that racy acidity so they’re very mouth-watering. Perfect for the summer.
Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc
Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand
FLAVOUR OF WINES
What kind of flavors are we getting with these wines?
· Here you get herbal aromas. You’re going to taste green profiles like chives, peas, asparagus, and lime.
· It’s why these wines are such a great match for summer produce.
Laurenz V. Friendly Grüner Veltliner
Kamptal D.A.C., Austria
Make your way over here Natalie. I want to talk about celebrations because this time of year it seems like there’s always an event to attend: graduations, family reunions, weddings, showers, birthday parties. And celebrations often mean bubbly but that’s not cheap. What do you suggest as a champagne alternative?
· While we all love to drink champagne, cost is definitely a factor if you’re celebrating every weekend.
· I suggest you go for great alternatives like Prosecco, Cava, or Moscato. They taste great and they won’t break the bank.
· Prosecco is from Italy, Cava is from Spain, and the other sparkling wines are from all over the world.
· Moscato is lovely for those who want some sweetness but not as much effervescence. The bubbles are more spritzy than bubbly so they’re gentler on the palate. With champagne and many sparkling wines, they do a second fermentation to trap in those CO2 bubbles.
La Marca Prosecco
Veneto DOC, Italy
How much of a price difference are we talking?
· It can be a lot!
· Entry level champagne starts at $70 a bottle. If you’re looking to buy a premium bottle it can be in the hundreds.
· Moscato you can get for $15 a bottle or less.
· Prosecco and Cava usually run about $15-20 a bottle.
· Sparkling wines from Canada can be a little more, say $25-30 a bottle.
Yellow Tail Moscato
Georges Duboeuf Hob Nob Pinot Noir
Languedoc IGT, France
Okay Natalie. We’re going to end with the big, bold red wine lover. Here’s the thing, when the summer hits, I often just switch to beer because I don’t really drink white wine. What can a red wine lover do this time of year?
· Go for a lighter red like a pinot noir or gamay. Again, they tend to come from cool climates so there’s less alcohol.
· These wines are often fermented and aged in big stainless steel vats which are neutral and keep the temperature cool. This preserves the fruit freshness (as opposed to adding toasty, oaky, buttery notes from the oak).
· These wines will give you ripe cherry-berry flavours with a smooth texture.
Georges Duboeuf Fun Gamay
What if you still want a red that will hold up to your casual backyard barbeque? What should we be looking for?
· You can still go big but again, go smooth so you’ll enjoy the taste of the barbecued meats.
· Certain grapes and styles like Shiraz and Zinfandel are smooth. They’re big on flavor and full-bodied weight but the tannins are smooth (tannins are that grippy or furry mouth feeling you get when eating walnuts – certain grapes have more of them).
· For many reds, as they age their natural tannin compounds bind together. When they bind together, the wine feels smoother. With young wines, the tannins haven’t come together so you’ll get that furry mouth feeling happening. That’s why it’s often said that a wine gets better with age. If you don’t have time to age your wine, you would decant it and expose it to air. Those tannins are going to chain together so the wine will get a little smoother.
· Lower your alcohol and your tannins and oak but keep the fleshy ripe black plums, blackberries, smoke, and toast.
Frei Brothers Winery Reserve Zinfandel
Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, California, United States
Printed with permission from CTV.