Thursday, July 28, 2011

Summer Wines and Other Light, Refreshing (and inexpensive) Quaffs

What makes a "summer wine?" It should taste better chilled than cellar (or room) temperature, have a lower alcohol content (12.5 percent or less), be widely available, and not set you back a lot at the checkout counter.
With that in mind, here are some suggestions from one of my favorite wine writers, Food & Wine's Ray Isle.
Vin Gris from Pinot Noir grapes

A lovely rose (pictured):

Cool breezes from the San Pablo Bay, off Napa's Carneros district, help give the 2010 Sean Minor Four Bears Vin Gris ($15) a bright, crisp acidity to go with its strawberry-inflected fruit. (Vin gris is an old French term for rosé that more and more California wineries are adopting.) Minor's bottling is 100 percent Pinot Noir.

More options:

2010 Skouras Moscofilero ($15) With its aromas of honeysuckle and tangerine, this brisk white from one of Greece's top wineries smells as though it might be sweet. Instead, it's bone-dry and crisp, an ideal match for oysters on the half shell.

2010 Waterbrook Sangiovese Rosé ($11) Washington's Columbia Valley isn't known for the Sangiovese grape variety, nor for rosés. As a result, Waterbrook's lightly floral bottling is a nice surprise.

2009 Martinshof Zweigelt ($12) For this spicy Austrian red, wine importer Carlo Huber blends the local Zweigelt variety with a small amount of Pinot Noir to "soften the edges," he says.

2009 Georges Duboeuf Juliénas ($13) In the great '09 vintage, all of Duboeuf's cru bottlings (those labeled from the 10 major towns of Beaujolais) are good. But this fragrant red is the best.

And how about light beers? Food & Wine did a blind taste test of many widely distributed light beers, and here was the clear winner:

Sam Adams Light "Light hoppy note; good, lasting flavor. A real beer."

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