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.
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It is warm out. What do you recommend from your wine shop? When it’s hot you don’t want anything thick or heavy. Look for bright, light wines with lower alcohol content and refreshing acidity.
Does “light” mean lacking depth? The perfect summer wine is refreshing, engaging and also characterful. There are very good whites, rosés and sparkling wines that have considerable complexity.
Aside from the weather, what else should be taken into account when selecting a wine? The food pairing, who you’re drinking with and your 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 something reassuringly good, like a Bordeaux, which will be exactly what you expect 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. Barbera and Dolcetto 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.
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J.J. Prüm, Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett 2011 ($29.95)
This is a gorgeous dry Riesling from one of Germany’s master winemakers. Its combination of wonderful fresh acidity, bright stone fruit flavours and low alcohol make it a perfect summer wine.
JPB Droin, Chablis Grand Cru Vaudesir 2013 ($64.95)
Chablis is good at any time during the year, but especially in the summer where its trademark chalky aromas pair naturally well with fish and lighter dishes. For a Grand Cru wine, this is another reminder of just what great value Chablis offers.
Araujo, Sauvignon Blanc Eisele Vineyard 2013 ($99.95)
From one of Napa’s greatest vineyards comes this outstanding Sauvignon Blanc. Araujo makes elegant, balanced wines ensuring they are never too heavy or alcoholic – just what you need during the summer. Under the ownership of Francois Pinault, the Sauvignon Blanc has become fresher, more delicate and more serious