Tuesday, May 07, 2013

The search for summery wines

I get asked a lot for wine suggestions. Here’s a conversation that I had a few weeks back with a good friend. 

Carrie: Bill, there’s a sale at the SAQ this weekend and we want to buy a few cases of wine to bring with us out to the country. We’re there for three weeks and I don’t want to stress about wines when we are up there. Can you suggest a few Summery wines?

Bill: What’s a Summery wine? You mean like white wines?

Carrie: You know I don’t like white wine that much. You keep forcing them on me and yes, I am starting to like them a bit more but that’s not what I am talking about. You know- summer wines. 

Bill: No, I have no clue what you are talking about. You mean rosés? Most people only drink those in the summer.

Carrie: I’ll get a few, sure. But that’s lunch and afternoon drinking. I need good reds.

Bill: Summer reds? You mean as opposed to winter reds? I didn’t realize that wine was seasonal. What are you eating? 

Carrie: How would I know, we aren’t even leaving until the second week of July. Stop messing with me, you aren’t being any help at all. You’re Mr. sommelier wine critic. 

Bill: (Pause) So really what you are asking me is if I were to take two cases of wine with me to the country, and that’s all I could drink, what would I bring? It’s like that desert island question where if you could only drink one wine for the rest of your life, what would it be? I always answer JJ Prum’s Wehlener Sonnenhur Kabinett Riesling. You should bring lot of those.

Carrie: That’s your German wine. Didn’t we drink some a few weeks ago? That was yummy. How much was that?

Bill: Hey you remembered! It’s close to $40, but there is good stuff around $20 that will do the job. It’s great pre-dinner wine when you are cooking and when you eat spicy shrimp and other seafood. 

Carrie: $40 is way to steep, keep them around $20. Are they good for fish too? We eat a ton of fish.

Bill: Nah. Save them for spicier meals. I would bring a few drier whites. Maybe something light and zippy like a sauvignon blanc for trout, and something fatter if you cook some Walleye or other richer fish. A chardonnay would work. 

Carrie: Like salmon?

Bill: No, you get to drink a red with that. Pinot noir would be best.

Carrie: Okay, so four rosés, four of your German wines and 4 other whites. Now get to the important wines, the reds. 

Bill: Oh yes, the summery reds. Barbecue wines you mean.

Carrie: Exactly.

Bill: You need a few Burger wines. You guys eat Hamburgers don’t you?

Carrie: Of course. 

Bill: Sounds strange but you need a red that goes well with ketchup. A rosé with some torque will do the job, or fruity red with not too much tannin. A red that you can chill a bit and crank it back. A Barbera, a Languedoc, Beaujolais, something like that. i would stay Euro with these but you two like oaked-up wines, so maybe a lighter shiraz.

Carrie: You will write these down for me won’t you?

Bill: No problem. This is actually fun. So now a few wines to go with barbecue sauce- ribs, chicken pieces, pork chops, stuff like that. I would go new world here - California, Australia. Wines with loads of oak and lots of fruit, alcohol sweetness, especially if your sauce is a little spicy. Zinfandel, shiraz, they would all work. Oh and if you do white meats with herbs, bring some Loire cabernet franc. It’s made to be chilled a bit and the green pepper flavour works well with the herbs. Killer with a Greek salad as well.

Carrie: What about steak? We eat a lot of steak.

Bill: Steak wines. You can go wherever you want. I mean any wine with some good tannin that has done some time in oak will do. (Pause) But nothing too serious. Okay I see what you mean now by summer wines. I wouldn’t go Bordeaux, Rioja or Barolo or anything like that. I would go with wines that have less tannin and earthy notes and instead, more fruit. So if you want your oak and jam, this is California or Australian cabernet sauvignon. Rhone reds are great as well, been drinking a lot of those recently, especially syrah from the northern Rhône.

Carrie: Okay perfect, you will write everything down. 

Bill: Not everything. I’ll give you a few specific wines and for the rest just find wines you want to try in the same style. But bring an ice bucket, hopefully it will be hot.

Carrie: We keep the whites in the fridge.

Bill: No, it’s for your reds. If it’s hot out, make sure it is always handy so you can dunk your bottle in it to keep temperature down. Hot red wine is gross, and you always serve your reds too warm. 

Carrie: You are such a snob. You make me nervous every time you come over.

Bill: Okay, I won’t bring my own glass with me this time if it makes you feel better.

Carrie: Such a total snob.

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