Experimenting with summer wines
Do we drink differently in summer? To some extent yes. Especially if it’s a hot summer. Which is not always the case. But if it is hot and you eat outdoors, we think there are two important things to keep in mind: the first is the temperature of the wines and the second is to save your very best wines for another day.
But otherwise, yes, it will be the food that decides. But maybe not…
Many tend to focus a little bit too much on food and wine pairing, which wine will go with which food. But in reality, it is more complicated than that, or rather, simpler (!) than that.
Which wine goes best with the food depends not only on the food (is it salty, much acidity, fried or stewed, spices etc, etc.) but also (perhaps more?) on the weather, your mood, the season, the company, on personal preferences and much else. If you are into biodynamics then you should also think of whether it is a root or flower day…
The summer is actually a perfect time to discover new food and wine combinations. Perhaps the heat makes you more inclined to drink a white than a red wine and then you can discover combinations you have not thought of before.
A white wine with grilled meat? Yes, absolutely. It works fine.
Perhaps you’d then prefer a full-bodied white, with mouthfeel and structure. Or why not with some skin maceration, with a little bit of tannin (some call them “orange”). Unlike aromatic whites, which have a prominent nose but less flavour (somewhat generalising), these wines are discreet on the nose but are rich and fat in taste.
The “fatness” in the wine can come from the oak but some grapes have it naturally. Like white Languedoc-Roussillon and Rhône wines, with grapes such as grenache blanc, marsanne, roussanne, maccabeu. They are fat and full-bodied all by themselves without the need for oak. Perfect food wines and also with meat.
But if you belong to those who absolutely want a red wine to the grilled entrecote or the grilled lamb chops, then there are different options. Whether you choose a strong, full-bodied wine or lighter style of red, think about the temperature well in advance.
A warm summer evening we like to chill even a powerful red wine with a lot of fruit and structure to 14-16 degrees C. Then it will be fresh instead of a heavy and cloying.
Don’t be afraid to try unusual combinations of food and wine. It almost always works. When you are with producers in wine regions they often have a very relaxed attitude to such things, rather than rules and principles. On the wine tour to Etna in Sicily this spring, for example, we were served the red prestige wine from one of the producers to the sweet dessert. That worked well too. The lovely lunch table on the terrace, overlooking the vines and the volcano probably helped.
A big misconception is that it is quick to cool a bottle of wine in the refrigerator. It is not. If you start at room temperature and are aiming at 6-8 degrees Centigrade, you have to wait at least 3 hours. Longer if you start at summer room temperature. And a little longer for a champagne with its thick bottle. Although it is a waste to serve good sparkling, or other better white wines, at less than 12 degrees C. Then you hide most of the characters with the exaggerated cold.
Now, six degrees C may be too cold for a red wine. But not always. In France, there is a long tradition of serving red Loire wines directly from the fridge. And Beaujolais. It’s not a bad idea on hot summer days/evenings. The temperature rises rapidly in the glass anyway. This really applies to all reds that are, if not simple, so at least unpretentious.
The fridge is good for those who plan well ahead. For the rest of us, luckily there is the combination of ice, water and an ice bucket. Or you can put the bottle a short time in the freezer. Oh yes. Read more in the Brief about how to temperate wine.
One thing to avoid is to serve your treasures from the cellar at the summer’s barbecue dinners. These are not made for outdoor use. There are too many things competing with the wine’s aroma outdoors. It easily disappears with the wind, even if it is only a small breeze. Often, much of the subtle characters disappear outdoors (so a serious wine tasting should always be indoors). Best to let the dusty old bottles remain where they are until autumn. Which is really, really far away.
But even if the autumn is far away, it is important to think about it already, because….
Because it is high time to book your autumn wine tour!
We have some places left on some of the autumn tours, though not at all. Take a look at the program below and book now!
For those of you who want to come on our longer wine adventures this winter – to South America, to South Africa or to New Zealand – it is also high time to book. (South America is actually already fully booked.) Book your winter wine tour now!
And remember, if you want a truly unique wine experience, one that takes you to the genuine wine producers, takes you behind the scenes, takes you to personal meetings with the winemakers – one that is not only famous names and marketing driven labels – then you should travel with the wine experts and the wine tours specialist, BKWine Wine Tours.
Have a lovely July,
Britt & Per
PS: Recommend to your friends to read the Brief !
What’s on at BKWine Tours
- Champagne, September 11-15, 2019
- Bordeaux, October 2-6, 2019
- Chile and Argentina, January 20 – February 2, 2020
- South Africa, February 15-23, 2020
- New Zealand, March 9-24, 2020
- More to come
For more information please contact us on email or on phone (we’re on French time), or go to our wine travel site on www.bkwinetours.com!
We also make custom designed wine tours – on-demand tours for you and a group of friends, for your company (maybe to scout new winegrowers?), for a special event… We can combine winery visits and wine touring with other activities: gastronomic workshops, visit to an oyster farm, truffles hunting, cheese making, and more. More info on the custom designed and bespoke BKWine wine tours and travel here!
Read our book(s)
We have written several wine books, nine at the last count. One of them has been translated to English; the others are (so far) only available in Swedish. This is the one that is available in English: Biodynamic, Organic and Natural Winemaking, Sustainable Viticulture and Viniculture
All our books are on wine, but on different subjects: wines of the Languedoc, wine growing and wine making, the wines of France, Tuscany, Bordeaux, Piedmont, Burgundy, Champagne. Several have won prestigeous prizes and awards. Read more on our wine books.
This post is also available in: Swedish