PERFECT WINES FOR PORCH SIPPING THIS SUMMER!
When summer arrives, those hearty, rich wines don’t always appeal. What you need is a sip suitable for the porch, a lighter wine that can be served cool or even cold. The porch or backyard calls for a red or white that is refreshing, naturally lighter in body and low in tannins to give you relief from the heat. Several exciting, lesser-known grapes and regions pair well with clinking glasses veranda style.
For summertime, Bethany Taylor, certified sommelier and manager of Brookhaven Wines, likes to stock up on smooth, juicy reds that can be chilled. “I was beyond thrilled to recently discover that a favorite Italian female winemaker makes such a wine,” she says. The 2017 Ventisei Rosso ($17.99), a Tuscan blend fermented in stainless steel tanks, undergoes particle carbonic maceration (a method that results in low tannins and gulpable juice). “This wine bursts with flavors of tart raspberry jam and cherry Jolly Rancher, balanced by a hint of spice and a fresh mineral finish,” Taylor says.
“A good porch wine can be tricky to find,” says Ashley Hall, district manager for Winebow distributor of fine wines). “It can’t be at all distracting, so no flashy or assertive flavors or textures. But that doesn’t mean I want to drink something drab like the worst watery Pinot Grigios.” In short, “easy” doesn’t always mean “delicious.” Her pick this summer is a 2018 Massaya Blanc ($18.99) from Lebanon. It’s a perfectly balanced blend of five very different grapes—“not easy to pull-off,” says Hall. The vintners have assembled a wine that is both crisp and flavorful, aromatic and polite. Her favorite part is the texture. “It’s seamless. It manages to be mildly creamy but finishes clean and brisk,” she says. Notes of peach, honey and lemon give off strong porch vibes. Find it at Perrine’s Wine Shop.
For Eric Crane, advanced sommelier and Empire Distributor’s training director, porch wine is easy to find and put a chill on. “I really love J. Lohr Valdigúe ($9) for summer,” he says. “You can give this easy drinking red a slight chill, and it works so well for day or night.” Valdigúe is a dark purple red wine grape from Southern France with floral aromatics. It’s vibrant and expressive with the fruit flavors of raspberry and cranberry. “Pretty cool,” Crane says, for a large winery to “focus on such an obscure grape for as long as they have.” The wine is widely available, including at the Buckhead location of Tower.
“The benefit of chilling red wine on hot days, outside of the obvious, is to hide the warmth from the alcohol in wines,” says wine importer JP Bourgeois. “Chilling reds ‘hides’ tannins and pushes the fruit forward, so for wines with lower acid and tannins, chilling makes them shine even more,” he says. This broadens pairing possibilities of red wine with cold summer dishes. With ruby color that matches the aromas of ripe and sweet fruits, Gamay is a go-to for Bourgeois. Domaine Marion Pral Beaujolais Cuvée Terroir ($19) is 100% Gamay with a nose of roses, ripe cherry and strawberry. Domaine Beauséjour Gamay Noir Cuvée Vincent Touraine ($18) is 85% Gamay Noir and 15% Malbec, and it chills nicely in hot weather. It’s the perfect pairing for a charcuterie and cheese board. Both are available at Perrine’s.
“My go-to chillable red would have to be Masi Bonacosta Valpolicella Classico ($15),” says Advanced Sommelier Jacob Gragg. “The wine is a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara from the area surrounding Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet.” The ripe, fresh character of the fruit and especially low tannins make it a great choice for drinking with a slight chill while enjoying the outdoors. A great example of a grape one may not have had that fits the summer weather in Atlanta perfectly is Turbiana, from Italy’s Lombardy region. “My favorite example is Cà Maiol’s Maiolo ($15) with beautiful, fresh floral characteristics balanced with bright citrus and just the right balance of acidity,” Gragg says.
1418 Dresden Drive N.E.
Perrine’s Wine Shop
1168 Howell Mill Road N.W.
Green’s Liquor Store
2614 Buford Hwy. N.E.
Tower Beer, Wine & Spirits
2161 Piedmont Road N.E.
Drinks columnist at Simply Buckhead. Food, spirits, and culture writer.