Light reds for summer drinking
Blue skies and long hot sunny days are set to continue and al fresco dining whether a simple salad or BBQ or three course dinner is very appealing. It is a time for crisp white wines and lighter reds, especially those that can be chilled, and it is the light reds I am going to focus on this week. Fortunately, there are a wide range to choose from so red wine drinkers do not need to eschew their favourites in the heat.
Pinot Noir and Gamay spring to mind when thinking of lighter French reds as they both make refreshing lighter wines as that have some red fruit notes with light tannins. Red Burgundy is a classic example of Pinot Noir but check out the wines from the South of France in the Ardeche and Languedoc with similar flavours and a hint of spice as is the case in Pinots from Chile and New Zealand too. They are great on their own or with food. Beaujolais is the home of Gamay and the vibrant light elegant fruity wines from Fleurie, Chiroubles and Regnie to name a few can be lightly chilled – ideal summer drinking in the sunshine.
In New Zealand, the Austrian wine maker Hermann Seifried has shown that grapes from his native country grow well and produce delicious wines such as the red Seifried Estate Zweigelt that is full of intense fruit notes and combines soft toasty oak and lovely savoury fruit notes on nose and palate. In this heat it can be served cool though not cold making it a very appealing accompaniment to summer meals. They grow well in Austria too where the New Zealand tanginess is replaced with broad textured fruit as well as a great blend of spice and ripe cherry fruit and black pepper which is gentle yet refreshing.
Grenache aka Garnacha in Spain is another grape variety renowned for its part in Rioja wines when blended with Tempranillo and is also increasingly grown and bottles as a single varietal wine such as the wine made by Borsao in the Campo de Borja and in Navarra. I am also a great fan of some of the elegant stylish Australian Grenache wines made by a company called Thistledown – look out for the Thorny Devil, Vagabond and the Charming Man wines.
Contemporary Portuguese reds from native grape varieties such as Touriga Nacional, Trincadeira and Alfrocheira in the Alentejo and Douro are often spicy and piquant with a lighter edge. As a result, they are great for summer drinking especially with marinated BBQ dishes.
Summer desserts that are often fruit based are easily matched with dessert wines, but my favourite chocolate strawberries are difficult to match with wines because of the mouth coating chocolate notes. The answer lies with red dessert wines such as a naturally sweet red from the south of France such as the Domaine de Beaurenard Rasteau or a Banyuls made by Chapoutier which is deliciously textured and full of sweet, elegant, vibrant chocolatey fruit. Together with Florentines and good coffee this a wonderful way to finish a meal!
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