Yay!! Summers here. It’s time to host endless brunches (or drunches!!), poolside parties, and balmy evening rooftop soirees. And while at them what fits well is something that makes you move the least, and pours the most. Something you don’t have to put together endless inventive ingredients for, stir, shake, and muddle, into a library of fancy glasswares to fix a decent quaffer. And think of the repeats, lord mercy!! It’s the time to simply pop open a bottle, share it with your tribe, and laze sans the effort. Kiss your dark spirits and complex cocktails away, and traverse to your wine cellars, its time for them to make you look effortlessly suave, and lift the mood.
For a true oenophile every wine is a perfect summer wine, but when the mercury drops, you need a vino that’s served cooler than your AC blasts. They must be served chilled, have refreshing high acidity, preferably have no or very little tannins, and must be light enough to simply float on your palate and quench your thirst. Any wine that ticks these four simple boxes deserves sitting in your cups.
So, simply stay away from heavy reds, boozy fortified wines, and the sticky ones, the later especially. These wines pack a devilish kiss and have immense persuasiveness to turn you into a sloth or a zombie in a single serve. Summers are the time for light, citrus, and aromatic whites, roses and bubblies. If you’re trying to fit in a red, pour it in a glass, tilt it over a page of a Murakami novel, and see if you can read a page through it. If it works, chill it, and put it up. If that’s what you fancy, say hello to Pinot Noir and Beaujolais.
WHAT WORKS AND WHY
Dry, crisp, citrus, aromatic whites are a no-brainer. A gentle sniff should transport you to the farmlands and orchards, and the juicy citrus burst should put dew drops in the scenes with their refreshing lemon-lime play. Sauvignon Blancs and Rieslings are the perfect varietals for the season. And if you’re looking for something much simpler pick up a Pinot Grigio, Chenin Blanc, or a Viognier and watch them elevate your drinking rituals.
Roses do exactly the same, along with a generous serving of panache, elegance, and personality. These pink and salmon-hued drops are an absolute delight and keep either side of the drinkers satiated. Roses have a bust of crisp citrus, a rounder mouthfeel than their white counterparts, and a husky play of tannins to keep your tongue running over your teeth, reminiscing about the last sip and gently moving you towards another.
My perpetual go-to are the bubblies. They are a no-fuss, crowd pleaser and are the easiest to manoeuvre through with a tableful of delectable dishes. Forget not, they are served the most chilled amongst all winestyles, and there’s a ceremonial celebration each time the cork pops!! Add a few spoonfuls of fresh fruits, puree of peaches or apricots, and top it up with a sparkling wine and they make the perfect spritzer. A word of advice, whichever wine you may settle with, drink their youngest freshest avatar. The pompous, late-maturing, hefty wines are for the winters, summers are for accentuating the youth.
India’s been making some really worthy wines alongside those you’ve backpacked their ways on to our shelves. Here’s a pick of our favourite wines that’ll be crowding the community tables this season:
Aussies have championed the art of making bubblies, and Jacob’s Creek is an unmistakable synonym. The play of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir brings a respectable charm and balance while maintaining a crisp mouthfeel, a citrus backbone, complimenting the mouse from bottle fermentation. An evergreen aperitif, a bankable serve, amazing with canapes, and biriyanis.
Think of a cool, crunchy leafy salad, with arugula leaves, pears, bell peppers, shards of piquant goats cheese, and a vinaigrette dressing. Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect marriage for that. Ethereal, crisp, gripping with hauntingly aromatic notes of lime, green veggies, gooseberries, and a playful lift of white florals. Chill it to the bone and hand over a glass to even a novice and see they eyebrows lift up with absolute amazement.
Viura meets Chardonnay meets Espana, what’s to go wrong in that trio? Viura is a rather introverted varietal that’s meant for those who like there wines to be subtle, not in-your-face, but pack a punch in the right places. It’s crispness is unparalleled to any other varietal making it a deserving partner for seafoods and baked dishes.
Its love-affair with Indian palate makes it the easiest contender to be on the list. Limey citrus with some white fruits, a play of creamy texture, with an earthy back, it’s a timeless charmer. It’s effortless to like and even easier to polish off a bottle of before anyone even notices. Stews, baked meats, and creamy preparations and this beauty, an utter delight.
Think of a summery red and Pinot with jump out of your brain even before the end of the sentence. And if it’s from NZ, it’s a jackpot. NZ Pinots are smooth, light, and fragrant with ample dosage of red berries, rhubarb, rose petals, sweet cherries, and can quickly develop some complexity too. Any tomato-based gravy dish, mezze, simple mediterranean preparation, of a salmon dish, put a Pinot next to it and see people fall in love with their marriage.
York’s winemaking style fills the trio of sensuality, aromatics, and a flirtatious slither of complexity in every bottle. A commendable rose bubbly that has never failed to impress from its first vintage. It’s minerally, controlled on the lees, and packs ample hues of florals, red fruits, and a cherry bite at the back.
Probably the most bankable Chenin Blanc you’ve not heard of or tasted thus far. It’s brimming with varietal flavours of green fruits, acacia flowers, an leafy bite, and a lemony acidity, making it a perfect open-relish-repeat proposition.
The new kid on the block is the perfect balance of citrus, tropical fruit ripeness, flavour sweetness, and honeyed notes. It’s the harmony in its elements that makes it an easy sipper, but it’s not just that. Crack open one and find it for yourself.
Amongst the most under-rated whites in the country that you only need to try once to befriend. Juicy citrus, white stone-fruits plushness, a hint of candied back, and ample character makes Grillo an amazing pick. An incomparable personality on the list, thank us later.
Amongst the most respectful roses out there right now, The Source rose is for those who understand their wines well. The play of red fruit flavours, a cherry twang, flirtatious tannin profile, and a mineral grip makes it a playful yet an astute rose. A definite bankable proposition.
A pleasing aromatic nose, burst of lively flavours, bright fruity citrus, a clever grip on the palate, and a candied finish, the thought of this salmon-hued rose alone puts a smile on one’s face. Relishing it is an even better joy.
First published in India Today Spice magazine in May 2021