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  • Writer's pictureChristina Kach

Wine Stuff to Know: What Makes a Summer Wine

Shall I compare thee to a summer's wine? Thou art more crisp and more delicate. These are not the only beautiful qualities that make a delicious summer wine. And, what does "summer wine" even mean? Let us explore.

Wine Body

Recommendations for summer wines are often accompanied by comments highlighting the crispness, lightness, refreshing qualities. These terms most often are in reference to wine's body. When we discuss the body of a wine we are referring to how it feels in the mouth (mouth-feel). A lighter body wine simply feels more welcoming in hot summer sun than the weight of a full body wine. A full body wine likely has a higher alcohol content and bigger tannins - bright sunlight and high ABVs can result in feeling a little queasy and lots of tannins can feel drying.

Wine Complexity

Summer wine, and the sippin' is easy. Summer is a time to kick-back and relax. Often on a porch, back deck, poolside* in the sunshine. Summer wines will be showcased with terms like: easy-drinking, inviting and quaffable (Milo - Sideways). This means, the wines don't require you to dig out your wine encyclopedias to identify terrior (pronounced terhe-wah and meaning the land the grape comes from) or flavor notes (but if you want to - by all means do!). You can pour a glass and deeply enjoy without too much brain power.

*No glasses near a pool! Broken glass can damage pool linings and filtration systems and pose danger to swimmers. Opt for plastic or other options like Corkcicle instead.

Wine Flavors

Summer brings to mind fresh. Bloomed flowers. Ripe fruit. Crunchy veggies. Wines promoted as being great for summer will mimic these notes. Have you ever tasted a wine and noticed so much juicy peach and zesty lemon/lime flavors it felt like a refreshing spritzer? Those are the flavors profiles of a great summer wine; think about the flavors that feel summery to you and seek them out in your wine purchases.

Food & Wine Pairings

A huge part of the "circle of wine life" (Rafiki, probably) is paring and enjoyment with food. What you cook in the summer changes, so too does the wine. There is more grilling and barbecuing. Less time boiling pasta over a hot store. More fresh salads with veggies and juicy fruits. Less time stirring heavy stews and risottos. The food we are cooking less of are typically those paired with fuller-bodied, richer wines. The foods we are cooking more of in summer would lose their flavors under the weight of a heavy wine. Instead, crisp, fruity, vegetal wines are better matches to our summer gardens and plates.


As briefly discussed above....where you are drinking during the summer has ventured beyond your dining room table and (let's be real) your couch. A special occasion, triple-digit bottle of wine will not hit the same in a plastic cup on a lawn chair at a cookout. While you certainly can pop that expensive bottle open, you'll appreciate it more in a glass so you can feast your eyes on the colors, keep it at a proper temperature and not be distracted while sniffing out the fruity top notes and underlying earthy bouquet. Now is the time to bring out the wines we described above. Living in New England, we only get a few warm months. The big wines and the detailed tasting notes can wait to be appreciated in all their glory during the shorter, cooler days.

Some Examples

The following wines are fabulous options for summer enjoyment:

  • Light-bodied to medium-bodied red wines that emphasize fruit (ex. Gamay, Cinsault, red blends)

  • Light-bodied to medium-bodied white wines with vegetal, herbal and crisp fruit notes (ex.Vinho Verde, Assyrtiko, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris/Grigio, Albariño, Cava)

  • Light-bodied rosés (try offerings from cooler climates like France)

    • Don't forget the bubbles! There is always something to celebrate. Crémant sparklers from France, Processo from Italy and Cava from Spain are all great options.

But thy eternal summer doth NOT fade....drink any of these wine styles year round if you'd like!

And I'll see you back here in September to discuss what makes a wine fit for fall.

~Cheers & Ears

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