NEW YORK – The season’s warmer temperatures call for refreshing wines to pair with lighter foods and al fresco get-togethers. That much you know, but which summertime wines are the best? Jamie Ritchie, CEO and President of Sotheby’s Wine Retail, offers advice on what to choose.

summer-white-jamieJamie Ritchie, CEO and President of Sotheby's Wine Retail.

It is warm out. What do you recommend from your wine shop?
What we want to drink is dictated by many factors, not least the season. When it’s hot you don’t want anything thick, heavy or with one strong flavour. Look for bright, light wines with lower alcohol content and a refreshing acidity. 

Does “light” mean lacking depth?
People think white wine does not have the complexity of red, but the perfect summer wine is refreshing, engaging and also has character. There are very good whites, rosés and of course rosé champagne. 

Aside from the weather, what else should be taken into account when selecting a wine?
The food pairing, who you’re going to drink it with and the mood. Your mood is really important. If you’ve had a good day you might say, “let’s explore something new or a little unpredictable,” because if you get a disappointing bottle, you just open a different one. But if it’s a bad day, you want what is reassuringly good, like a Bordeaux, which will be exactly what you expect about 95 percent of the time.

What are the essential wines to have on hand in summertime?
At home you want a small but distinct range: a Sauvignon Blanc, like a classic Sancerre or a white Bordeaux; a Chardonnay from Burgundy or California; a Riesling from Germany or Alsace; a Chenin Blanc from the Loire; and an Italian white. And you always need champagne in the fridge.

What about summer reds? 
I suggest a Beaujolais or the lighter Pinots from Burgundy or California. Barberas and Dolcettos from Piedmont are also great.

Why buy at the Sotheby’s Wine retail store?
Larger retailers might have 4,500 different wines. With that many, it’s the consumer who has to know which are great. We have 1,500 wines, all typical of their region, of the highest quality and the best for their price. We don’t sell anything that we wouldn’t drink. We ask ourselves: Is it good enough to want to drink your half of the bottle, or three glasses? It is a pretty high benchmark, but that’s how we choose everything in the store. We are trend-free, classical but not boring.


(Left to right)

Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Kabinett, Riesling, JJ Prüm 2011, $34.95
“A wonderful aperitif from one of Germany’s greatest winemakers. Fresh and crisp, it’s lower in alcohol, so you can easily enjoy the whole bottle before lunch!” 

Poggio Alla Gazze 2012, $59.95
“Predominantly Sauvignon Blanc from Ornellaia’s Tuscan estate, this wine is dry yet full bodied – it brings a little Tuscan sunshine into your life.”

Puligny Montrachet, Domaine Leflaive 2011, $109.95
“Domaine Leflaive’s village Puligny consistently offers terrific value and never disappoints. Excellent throughout the summer with fish and seafood."

Visit us in our store at York Avenue and 72nd Street or online at or contact us at +1 212 894 1990. Immediate free delivery is available for orders of $225 or more. Delivery to the Hamptons will be available every other Thursday throughout the summer months. 

For more tasting notes from Sotheby’s Wine experts, go to

Learn more about our summer selections: Think Pink with Summer Rosés.