Best Wines for Summer


When you are looking for the perfect wine to serve at your summer gathering, you might first turn to the usual suspects: rosé, chardonnay, and sparkling wines like prosecco. These are all great options for a dinner party or a weeknight glass, but you don’t have to be limited. The wines below are great for pairing with summer meals and are very refreshing.

1. Beaujolais

A French Beaujolais is a fruity red wine that is similar to pinot noir in many ways, but is more affordable. Beaujolais comes from France, but its varietal, gamay noir, is grown around the world in cool climates like Oregon and New Zealand. The wine has many appealing floral and fruit aromas, such as raspberry, plum, and cherry.

Beujolais goes well with seafood, sausage, duck, and spicy foods. Try it with a smoky cedar plank salmon with roasted vegetables.

2. Cabernet Sauvignon

You might think a cabernet is too heavy for summer, but for grilled dinners of beef, lamb, and pork, there’s nothing better. Chill this wine slightly, since it can taste “cooked” if it gets too warm. Cabernet is a classic French grape, grown around the world in wine growing regions like California, Chile, and Australia.

A good Cabernet has great depth of flavor. Overtones include cherry, tobacco, vanilla, and pepper. It goes best with food since it can be too heavy by itself. Excellent summer pairings include grilled steaks and kabobs, grilled vegetables, chicken wings, and lamb chops.

3. Chardonnay

Chardonnay is known as a favorite summer wine for a reason. Its full body and gentle sweetness make it a perfect wine to sip on its own or with dinner. Chardonnay is grown in such wine producing areas as California and France. It has aromas of apple, berries, and vanilla.

Chardonnay is perfect with chicken, risotto, pasta, and other light summer meals. It also stands up to seafood and mild cheeses.

4. Gewürztraminer

This medium sweet wine is less well known in the United States, but it isn’t difficult to find. Part of the problem with its popularity might be in its long and difficult name. The wine is grown in cooler climates, like the foothills of the Alps.

It is more sophisticated than Moscato, with strong fruity overtones and a long finish. It goes beautifully with grilled chicken or pork. It can also stand up to heavier ingredients like bacon. It is amazing with spicy foods like Indian, Moroccan, or Middle Eastern foods. Gewürztraminer is best served chilled.

5. Pinot Noir

Pinot noir is the classic summer red. Grown around the world in wine producing areas such as France, Australia, and Chile, pinot noir is lighter than cabernet sauvignon but has enough body to stand up to flavorful foods.

6. Prosecco

This Italian sparkling wine has taken over the sparkling wine market in the past few years. Prosecco can be enjoyed the same way as champagne. It has aromas of apple, apricot, and pear. It makes a fantastic pairing with fruits, as in the traditional cocktail, the Bellini.

Try prosecco with a variety of sweet and savory dishes. The bubbles cut through greasy food, so it is great with cured meats like prosciutto and salami. It is also great with seafood, fried food, and any kind of spicy food.

7. Riesling

Riesling is unfairly thought of as a dessert wine, but it comes in a range of dry and sweet flavors. Riesling is grown in cool climates like Germany, Washington state, and New York. It is excellent when chilled because much of the flavor comes from the aromas. The fruity flavors of Riesling range from lime to apricot, depending on the ripeness.

Pair it with shrimp, crab, chicken, and bacon-wrapped foods. It goes well with spicy sauces, but also goes well with mild cheese. It is great with grilled vegetables.

8. Rosé

A summer wine roundup wouldn’t be complete without rosé. This fruity wine has surged in popularity over the past several years. It’s lost the stigma it used to have, and everyone can enjoy it. Several different types of grapes can be used to make rosé, so it can be grown around the world.

Rosé can be dry or sweet, lending itself to a wide variety of pairings. A dry rosé is great with salads, light pasta meals, or seafood. A sweet rosé is excellent by itself or as a complement to a summer dessert. Try it with a fruit salad.

9. Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc has taken a bit of a back seat to Chardonnay, but this fruity and refreshing wine is excellent for summer dining. The grape is grown in wine growing regions like California, New Zealand, and Australia.

With aromas of pineapple and peach, this wine is wonderful with salads and starters. It is amazing with goat cheese, fresh vegetables, and herbal flavors. If you’re looking for a balanced dry white wine with a little bit of sparkle, Sauvignon Blanc is the way to go.

10. Vinho Verde

This Portuguese classic, “green wine,” is tailor made for summer dining. With a refreshing bite that cuts through rich food, this wine often has a bit of sparkle. This is an affordable wine with a great deal of personality.

Vinho Verde grapes are grown in northern Portugal. The wine has a spicy, citrusy flavor that pairs beautifully with many summer meals. Try Vinho Verde with seafood, spicy sausage, and with kale soup, a Portuguese classic dish.

Try any one of these delicious varieties of wine at your summer barbecue.


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