By: Ms. Wendy, wine geek extraordinaire.
Is there anything better than Chicago in the summer? Cubs games, lake trips, biking trails, picnics in one of our hundreds of parks, swimming pools and sidewalk cafes keep the hope in our hearts during those long, lonely winter months. For me, personally, it’s knowing that my palate will once again crave white wine! Perfect, crisp, refreshing white wine. Hints of honeydew, airs of apricot, achingly acidic white wine captures the essence of summer weather. Lucky for me, I work at a wine store and have access to hundreds of delicious bottles just waiting to be chilled!
A little bit about me: I have a tendency to get very excited. As a result I often get overwhelmed when the moment comes to make a decision. I want to choose a bottle that best captures what I’m feeling at the moment and one that will, hopefully, agree with the palate of whoever I may be entertaining. To keep my enthusiasm in check, I’ve created a list of “must drinks” for the summer. To further simplify things, I’ve separated it into categories. Lists make everything better.
#1: Sippers for the Patio. These wines are easy, bright, low in alcohol and are as refreshing as a glass of water (but a hundred times more fun!). Toping the list is a wine from the Basque region of Spain; Txakoli (pronounced choc-o-lie). I would also lump in a Vinho Verde from Portugal to fill the same need. Both wines have a slight effervescence to them making the citrusy nature dance off your tongue. For a more exotic palate, try a Tcherga savignon blanc/misket blend from Bulgaria. It has hints of grapefruit, exotic flowers and lemon mixed with an air of freshly mowed lawn which makes it perfect for relaxing in the warm sun after a long day’s work.
#2 The Rockin’ Rose’. My search for the perfect rose’ has consumed my summers for years on end, now. Not that the pursuit isn’t delightful. Afterall, if I hit or if I miss, I’m still drinking a bottle of wine which, at the end of the day, is all that really matters. Obsession or not, we have succeeded in bringing into the store three marvelous pink wines which, for my palate, hit the spot every time. The Zepaltas from Sonoma, the Vin Gris also from Sonoma (coincidence, I swear!) and the Terre de Maimbray from Sancerre all make me salivate like one of Pavlov’s dogs. They each are unique in their own right, but all share one common quality; perfect balance of fruit to acidity. Think cherries and strawberries that finish completely clean. Mmmmmm….
#3 Celebratory Sparklers. There is no law that states that one has to wait for a special occasion for a great bottle of bubbles. Grab the Ca’Vittoria prosecco and some proscuitto and celebrate the day being beautiful! Or the Lini lambrusco bianco! Or the Graham Beck brut rose’! Each and every one will make you feel like the special person you are (all without breaking the bank, too). So go ahead, indulge in some bubbles. I won’t tell if you won’t.
Summer is the perfect time to be outside and explore with wine. There are no rules. Take a bottle to a friend’s house, talk about it, feel it out, decide if it’s the one for you. If not, try again tomorrow. We have plenty more where that one came from. Don’t think too hard, though. That takes all the fun out of drinking while the sun is up. We only get a few months of this. I’m certainly going to take full advantage. Join me, won’t you?