Vine Life

Kathryn Zondag Airdrie

Summer Sippers

The longer days and sunshine have us making plans for backyard entertaining, relaxing and letting the cares of the week melt away.

Certain wines simply lend themselves to summer sipping on the patio, and others are perfectly accompanied by great barbecue. Whether you are grilling with friends, or just unwinding in the sun with a good book, a great wine in your glass can enhance the experience.

The fun phrase ‘rose all day’ is more than fitting during our sunny months. While many people see these wines as a great aperitif, they can be stunning when paired with specific food choices. My personal favourites are drier French styles that have great mineral and red fruit notes. French Tavel is a perfect choice, and considering that only rose is allowed to be produced in Tavel, it is no wonder the winemakers of the area take their rose production very, very seriously. These wines are spectacular with smoked salmon, turkey burgers, and barbecued pulled pork.

Do your summer festivities call for a lobster boil or crab bake? Sweet corn on the cob, and butter-dipped seafood, need a wine that screams ‘from the sea.’ Muscadet is a delicious choice, in particular ones that say “sur lie” on the bottle. These have a salty, mineral character to them that begs for an assortment of fresh seafood.

If serious barbecue is in order, be sure to pick up a few bottles of Languedoc AC, and Zinfandel.

Items drenched in sweet barbecue sauce can be tricky to pair with the right red wine; unfortunately, the sweetness of many sauces can cause your wine to taste bitter and flat. To avoid this, pick a wine that has a lot of fruit and a little sweetness to it. Zinfandel is a sincere friend of semi-sweet-style barbecue sauces, and ones from Lodi in California are particularly delicious.

Smoked sausages and pepper-seasoned steak call for wines that also have a little smoke and pepper on the palate. French Languedoc AC, made from Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan and more are delicious options.

If fruit tarts and vanilla ice cream topped with fresh summer berries sound like a great way to end the day, why not pair them off with a summery dessert wine? Fruity and floral dessert wines like Muscat de Beaumes de Venise will end your day on a high note, and are nothing short of summer and flowers in a glass.

Whatever you are cooking or grilling in the sun, be sure to share and soak up the options with those you care about, because as long as the days can be, they usually pass faster than we would like!

Kathryn Zondag is a certified sommelier, and holder of the advanced certificate in wine and spirits from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) in London, England.

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