By The Glass
Light, crisp wine is right for summer
THE DAYS are getting longer and warmer as summer approaches. For me, this means seeking out different kinds of wines -- lighter, crisper thirst-quenchers. Summer is not the season for big, full-flavored, oaky, higher-alcohol wines.
Foremost on my list will be dry, pretty, pink wines. Pink?
For most people, the thought of pink wine translates into white zinfandel, a slightly sweet to sweet, rounded, gentle, low-alcohol wine. Yes, it's pink, and suitable for the hotter temperatures of summertime. White zins, however, because of that sweetness, don't appeal to everyone.
Those who travel to Europe, especially during the summer, can attest to the popularity of well-chilled, carafed, dry, light and crisp rosés, frequently served at cafés and bistros along the Mediterranean basin.
Rosés are a way of life there, a lifestyle kind of thing. Diners usually order lighter salads and a fresh-caught seafood specialty, and the server will usually recommend a house rosé.
Rosés come in all kinds of nuanced hues, but the good ones are absolutely thirst-quenching, delicious, gulpable and (surprising to some) food-friendly.
A FEW recommendations well worth seeking out:
2006 Carol Shelton Rendezvous Rosé ($16): Carol Shelton is a lauded California winemaker and has made a huge reputation through her delicious, provocative, single-vineyard red zinfandels. She just beams when one says "delicious" in describing her wines, which shows you where her priorities are. I'm thrilled that she's allocated some of her 2006 Rendezvous Rosé to Hawaii. This carignane-based wine has loads and loads of fruit, and it's round, with no hard edges whatsoever.
2005 Mantra Bliss Rosé ($16): Winemaker/owner Mike Kuimelis is one of the rising stars of California. I love his elegant cabernet-based reds. For the hot summer months, Mike crafts a dry, tasty pink wine from cabernet and merlot. It is ideal for a barbecue setting, suited to all kinds of foods.
2005 Domaine Fontsainte Corbieres Gris de Gris ($15): Here is a dry, fabulous, authentic French wine that epitomizes a café rosé. You will love its deliciousness, food-friendliness and gulpability.
2006 Pax Rosé ($23): Winemaker Pax Mahle is one of the new-age, winemaking superstars of contemporary California. I could easily go on and on about his tour de force syrahs, but will save that for a later time. Let me just say they are rich, lush, soulful black wines. Similar things could be said about his rosé. There is nothing light or crisp here. The 2006 is a deeply colored, heady, full-flavored pink wine, which would appeal to the California chardonnay and cabernet drinker. It has so much flavor and character, you even pair this with ribs and grilled meats, no problem.
Chuck Furuya is a master sommelier, a partner in the Sansei restaurants and a consultant to Southern Wine and Spirits. This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals.
This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org