Summer calls for lighter bodied reds
The 4th of July always signals to me the switch to lighter bodied red wines: out with the highly structured Cabernets, those big Mouvedres from Bandol, the intense Malbecs from Argentina, and those California Zinfandels with soaring alcohol levels. The heat of summer calls for easier drinking reds without a lot of tannin or alcohol. Here are my favorite four to honor the 4th.
One of the best summer reds is Pinot Noir. A more feminine grape, Pinot has lower tannins than most other red grapes which means it’s easier drinking in the warmer temperatures of July and August. Silky and soft, Pinot Noir can be a refreshing summer alternative to the more powerhouse big reds of winter.
Barbera is also a good choice for summer-time quaffing. The grape has very little tannin and lots of fruit profile. Mainly grown in the Piedmont district of Italy (home to the heavily structured Barolo and Barbaresco), Barbera works well with summer’s menu of simple grilled meats, poultry and fish.
One of my fave red wines to drink during the heat of the summer is Frapatto. Grown primarily in Sicily, this gem of a wine is perfect as an aperitif or with a lighter main course such as poultry or fish. When I think of Frapatto I think of strawberries as this berry is very prominent in both the varietal’s taste and aroma. Serve it and I guarantee people will rave.
This grape, which is native to Spain, is also grown in France’s Rhone Valley. Both countries make lighter-style red (unless the wine is aged in oak). This low tannin wine serves up an impressive lineup of summer-time flavors of red fruit such as raspberry and strawberry (versus black fruit of the more highly structured reds).
Here’s to the RED white and blue!