This post was previously published for In The Kitchen Magazine, which sadly, is no longer. This article ran in July of 2011.
At the onset of warm weather every spring, I break out the all the accoutrement of the season – shorts, flip flops and fill my wine rack with a variety of white wines. As the season winds around, I find myself gravitating towards lighter and sometimes more effervescent wines.
Vino Verde, for example, is about the most delightful wine I can imagine on a hot summer day. A Portuguese wine, it is light and fruity, with a definite pétillance to it. It is high in acid, so it has a certain crispness that I liken to lemonade, and has a lower alcohol content, which makes it a perfect ‘by the pool’ wine. On those really cold winter days, when I need to pretend I’m somewhere warm and tropical, it’s Vino Verde I imagine myself drinking. It is always the first bottle of white I grab in March, when I begin stocking for the warm weather, because I want to make sure I have it on hand when the time comes. Best of all, Vino Verde is a fairly inexpensive wine – you can find great bottles of the stuff for under $10.
If you really want to impress your friends, seek out a bottle of Txakoli (sometimes known as chacolí) for an afternoon of fun. Txakoli is a Spanish wine, very similar to Vino Verde, with a crispness and touch of sparkle thanks to a high acid content, but has a bit more heft in the body from its Portuguese counterpart. It was a primarily home distilled wine for many years, but it was rediscovered in the 1980’s and is finally being imported in this county. It’s worth seeking out.
If sweet is more your preference, then a bottle of Moscato is something you must try if you haven’t already. A light, fruity, slightly sweet, frizzante wine from Italy, Moscato is considered a lovely aperitif, brunch or dessert wine. Talk about versatile! Moscato typically has hints of peach (among other fruits) and is low in alcohol.
Of course, if you are just in the mood for something sparkling, why not try a bottle of Prosecco? Prosecco is an Italian sparkling wine that is dry, with subtly sweet fruity notes. In recent years, it has become a popular and less expensive substitute for Champagne. It also mixes beautifully and is the main ingredient in the classic Italian cocktail, Bellini.
By this point, you may have noticed some similarities in these suggestions. All are lower in alcohol content, which is recommended for those blistering hot days, and are lighter bodied wines. They all come from countries with a Mediterranean climate – hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. I can’t think of a better recommendation for a wine to drink on a hot summer day than one that hails from a climate well versed in hot summer weather.