Since summer is officially here, I’ve decided to ignore the fog and acknowledge that there are summer wines. These wines usually imply crisp, unoaked light whites, rosés and very light reds.
For whites, wines from the Vinho Verde region in Portugal and its neighbor, Galicia in Spain, along with Muscadet from France’s Loire Valley, rieslings from all over and Italian vermentino, are some of the more popular selections.
Red wines that are meant to drink young, such as most Beaujolais, are often touted as apropos for hot weather — although zinfandel, which tends to be full-bodied, also is a summer favorite.
Most rosé also passes the summer wine test, and sparkling wines are for any time of the year or day.
Several recommendations come to mind right away, but I also asked my compatriots in the wine industry for their picks for the summer. Here are six:
Ceri Smith, the owner of Biondivino Wine Boutique, loves the 2011 Erst + Neue Müller Thurgau ($15) from Alto Adige in Italy. She suggests having the fresh, minerally wine “poolside, rooftop, morning, noon and night.”
Andrew Fidelman, general manager and partner at Blanc et Rouge Wine Bar, digs the 2010 Sanz Rueda, Villa Narcisa ($14) “because it is so refreshing and it tastes like the most perfectly ripe honeydew melon.”
Rebecca Rapaszky, the wine buyer for Noe Valley Wine Merchants, said they “are absolutely in love with the 2010 Botani Dry Muscat ($15) from Malaga” in Spain. Its fruit aromas suggest it might be sweet, but it’s a lovely, bone-dry wine.
Absinthe Group wine director Ian Becker picked the 2011 Domaine de La Petite Cassagne Rosé ($11) from the Costières de Nîmes in France, adding, “This rosé is exactly what it should be: fresh, delicious and profoundly quaffable.”
Joseph Estrada of Castro Village Wines threw a red into the mix, the 2010 Trentadue Old Patch Red Lot #33 from California. It’s a zinfandel blend that he thinks is “perfect for summer barbecues.”
Les Tso, wine buyer for Le Cheval in Oakland, is a fan of the Raza Dolce, a semi-sweet sparkling torrontes from Argentina that is especially good with the Vietnamese food his restaurant serves.
As for me, the other night I was pleased to stumble upon the Marotti Campi Luzano Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore 2010 ($12) from Le Marche, Italy. Less fruity than the two white wines mentioned above, it is mineral-driven with traces of chamomile. In the sparkling wine realm, Delmas Blanquette de Limoux 2009 from France’s Languedoc is creamy but bright with apples and nuts. For $12, this wine is more than meets the eye.
The Matchbook Rose of Tempranillo 2010 ($10) from Dunnigan Hills in the Sacramento Valley is simple but balanced, with ripe cherry fruit and a long, thirst-quenching finish.
Even if you shy away from reds in the summer, don’t miss Bodegas Riojanas Rioja Joven Canchales 2010 ($15). Fresh and vibrant with red berries and a touch of pepper, stick it in the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes before serving and it will be as refreshing as lemonade.
Many of these wines can be found at A.G. Ferrari, Arlequin Wine Merchant, BevMo, Biondivino Wine Boutique, Castro Village Wine, Noe Valley Wine Merchants, Vinos Unico, Whole Foods Market, United Market, Wine-Searcher.com and directly through the wineries.
Pamela S. Busch was the founding partner of Hayes and Vine and CAV Wine Bars, and is a wine educator and writer.