Vines & Vittles

Perfect Wines for Summertime

I will admit that summertime is a great season to enjoy refreshing and thirst quenching beverages, particularly ones that are in sync with the picnic style foods that grace our tables in warmer weather.

While some of you may choose that frothy option as a suitable quaff for hot dogs, hamburgers and ribs, my preferences for those same type foods – and just about any others that we enjoy this time of year – is the fruit of the vine. That probably doesn’t surprise you since, after all, I am a certified winophile. So today, I’m recommending two categories of wine for your summertime sipping pleasure.

My first recommendation is that you open up a style of wine that most of us only uncork on special occasions. I’m suggesting sparkling wines to go with the foods of summer. And since we’re patriotically observing the Fourth of July, you’ll have a celebratory red, white and blue reason to pop the cork and toast this great – if troubled – nation we all call home.

Hey, and you don’t need to limit your sparkling choice to Champagne. Champagne is the most famous and most expensive of all sparklers and is only produced in that eponymous region of France. No, that’s the beauty sparklers where almost every wine-producing region on the planet makes their version of bubbly. And sparkling wine pairs especially well with picnic foods that are spicy, salty or rich.

It might come as a shock, but you really do have a wide variety of reasonably priced domestic and international wines from which to choose. There is Cava from Spain, Prosecco from Italy and Champagne-like wines from the US, Australia and Germany too.

The next category of summer wines I’ll suggest you open this summer is Rose’. I’m sure some of you may have a jaundiced view of this (sometimes) pink wine, harkening back to a time when Rose’ was bottled in heavy clay-like crocks (remember Mateus?) and tasted like strawberry soda. Or you may think of Rose’ as a sweet white zinfandel type wine.

Today, Rose’ is made in nearly all fine wine regions using just about every red grape imaginable from cabernet sauvignon to carignan and from pinot noir to mourvedre. While there are many slightly sweet aperitif Rose’s, there are even more that are produced to accompany food, and they are a perfect match to summertime meals.

Rose’ is really compatible with grilled foods, particularly sausages. Whether you prefer Italian, Polish, Bratwurst or some other pork-encased tube steak, Rose’ is a great choice. They’re also delicious with dry-rubbed (cumin, black pepper, salt and brown sugar) baby back ribs brushed with barbecue sauce.

Want the best of both the sparkling wine and Rose’ worlds? Two of the wines listed below under Sparklers – Anna de Codorníu Brut Rosé and Gustave Lorentz Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rosé – combine sparkling wine’s effervescence with bottles produced from Rose’.

So now that your mouths are watering, here are several of my favorite sparkling wines and Rose’s for you to try. These wines are widely available and priced from about $12 to a little more than $50 (for some of the Champagnes).

Champagne: Moet & Chandon Imperial; Veuve Cliquot (Yellow Label); Nicolas Feuillatte Brut; and Mumm Cordon Rouge Brut.

Other Sparklers: Saint Kilda Brut Cuvee-from Australia; Schramsburg Brut (Napa); Domaine Carneros (Sonoma); Gruet Sauvage Blanc de Blancs (New Mexico); Anna de Codorníu Brut Rosé (Cava from Spain); Roederer Anderson Valley Brut (Mendocino); Gustave Lorentz Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rosé (France); and Zardetto and Lamarca Prosecco from Italy.

Rose’: Lucashof Pinot Noir Rose (Germany); Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rose (South Africa); Elizabeth Spencer Rose of Grenache (California); MiMi en Provence Rose (France); Reginato Rose of Malbec (Argentina); and Pico Macario Rosato (Italy).