What makes a wine perfect for summer? Words like “light” and “refreshing” are used quite often, but the enology behind those terms offers the real secrets to making a wine ideal for sipping alfresco or poolside. Here are a few of our tips to follow when choosing your summer sips:
1. Keep it cool: Chilling a wine brings it down to a temperature much more suitable for a hot day or light fare. The best tried-and-true practice is to tuck a bottle into an ice bucket – be sure to add a little water as well, to help the ice melt and speed up the chilling process. If an ice bucket isn’t on hand, wet a paper towel and wrap it around the bottle before chilling it in the freezer for 15 minutes. Just be careful not to over-chill: bringing the wine down to too cool temperatures mutes its beautiful array of flavors.
2. All the acid. The notion of a wine being “refreshing” is really more about acidity than anything else. Acid in wine is the component that makes a wine taste tart or even sour – similar to alcohol levels, acidity is all about balance, how acid interplays with a wine’s tannins and bitterness. Grapes with naturally high acidity are Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Noir and the Italian Nebbiolo.
3. Seasonal fruit. Certain wines have a palette of flavors that mimic the beautiful array of fruits and flowers at the local market during the summer: the Ram’s Gate Pinot Blanc, for example, has a tropical component reminiscent of summer mangoes and juicy white peach, and the Ram’s Gate Carneros Pinot Noir’s strawberry-lavender aromas bring a taste of summer into the glass.
4. Beyond Whites. A wine doesn’t need to be from white grapes to be a lovely summer selection: lighter, high-acidity red wines and, of course, rosé wines, can be beautiful. We do recommend chilling a red wine down slightly more for a summer lunch or late afternoon aperitif than you would for a fireside evening, though – see #1.
5. Watch the Alcohol. The way ripeness and, as a result, alcohol levels translate to wine flavor depends largely on balance: all components – alcohol, tannin, acidity and ripeness – should harmonize in a way that none is too detectable. When it comes to warmer weather, this is even more important than any other time of year. “Winemaking is all about balance,” says Winemaker Jeff Gaffner, “all throughout the year.”
Ram’s Gate wines for summer:
2014 Sauvignon Blanc, Carneros
This refreshing wine features juicy citrus notes along with tropical passionfruit and pineapple flavors on the nose and palate. Slight vanilla and white floral aromas contrast crisp green apple flavors, carrying through the light-bodied mouthfeel accented by vibrant acidity and a mouthwatering finish.
2014 Pinot Blanc, Ram’s Gate Estate, Carneros
Pinot Blanc has a naturally lower acidity than its “sauvignon” counterpart, but grown in the cool Carneros AVA on the gentle slopes of the Ram’s Gate Estate, this Pinot Blanc has enough “zip” to delight on a hot day. Green apple flavors harmonize with juicy white peach and aromatic florals, leading through a long mineral finish. (Available by email request only: contact us at email@example.com to request a summer allocation).
Ram’s Gate Winery