When drinking wine, as opposed to tasting wine, I tend to drink seasonally. Summer behavior, like donning white linen clothing, playing croquet on the lawn, dining al fresco and watching beach sunsets, calls for fizzy or lighter wines that perform best when chilled.
Gentle readers, I know some of you drink only red wine no matter the season. You have my absolution for that. Occasionally, on a summer evening, I pull a random red out to have with steaks. But I have yet to find a red wine that goes with a salad of fresh seasonal greens or Gulf-fresh shrimp, crab cakes or oysters on the half shell — all staples of my summer diet.
I have difficulty keeping summer wines on hand because both my significant other and I reach for them with frequency, while multiple bottles of red languish in my significant other’s wine coolers.
Listed below are some old summer favorites, interspersed with new finds to consider for summer dining:
Crémant de Loire Brut Rosé by Moncontour: $17.25 at Tyson Fine Wines and Things in Golden Springs. From the Loire Valley of France, this rosé sparkling wine is called a “crémant.” Most French sparkling wines made outside the classified region of Champagne are called crémants, even though they are made by Méthode Traditionnelle, the same labor intensive methods used in making true champagne.
Made from 100 percent cabernet franc, this pink fizzy wine is light and sprightly with a strawberry nose. Recently served as an aperitif alongside a savory coeur a la créme made from a recipe by Food Network’s Ina Garten.
Pietra Santa 2010 Pinot Grigio: $13.25 at Tyson Fine Wines and Things in Golden Springs. From California’s Central Coast region, Pietra Santa is situated 25 miles from Monterey Bay. “Pietra Santa” is Italian for “sacred rocks.”
Grapes have been planted in Pietra Santa’s property since 1850. The current vineyards were established in 1989, and the winery has been in the hands of the current owners, the Blackburns, since 2005.
This wine is made from high-altitude grapes that are covered by early-morning bay fogs. This cools the fruit, allowing it to ripen slowly, rendering a wine of intense flavor, aroma and structure.
Citrus and tropical fruit flavors are preserved because the wine is fermented entirely in stainless steel. Most recently served with grilled shrimp tacos topped with a roasted sweet corn and avocado relish.
Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc 2010: $11 range at both Tyson and The Wine Cellar on Quintard. Made by Joel Gott, a fifth-generation winemaker and partner in Taylor’s Refresher, a Dairy Queen-type establishment turned gourmet burger joint that is a fixture in the city of Napa, with branches in St. Helena and San Francisco.
Gott is involved in several wine ventures, sourcing grapes from all over the California growing region.
Though sauvignon blanc is not my favorite varietal, this wine caught my attention. In Gott’s hands, this is vibrant. The acidity zings, but it retains its luscious fruit flavors. It is the house white for the Dragonfly Café in Fairhope, where it is served nicely chilled by the glass with outrageous tacos made from lobster, fried oysters, fish and scallops and sinfully delicious lobster corn dogs. It is my “go to” seafood wine.
Columna Albarino 2010: Temporarily out of stock at the distributor. In the $14 range, available from your favorite wine dealer, this Spanish white is from the Rias Baixas growing region of Spain.
Seafood is the staple of this region’s diet, washed down with a fine white albarino. Fermented on natural yeast, this wine sees no time in oak. It is a good alternative to unoaked chardonnay.