Summer is in full swing here in southeast Texas and, if it hasn’t gotten there yet where you’re at, it will be soon!

When I think of summer, it’s all about hot days, sunshine, pool parties, outdoor concerts, and campfires. While we’re still adjusting to living with COVID-19 we may not be able to engage in everything we love to do in the summer, but there’s no reason you can’t have fun. Here are my picks for summer wine and food pairings that will help make sure this is a summer to remember (for all the right reasons).

At the beach

  • Fried chicken and sparkling wine- I know, this seems a little incongruous, but it really can work. Sparkling wine is rich and refreshing, so the acid will balance the fattiness of the fried chicken but won’t be overpowered by the rich flavors and texture. The saltiness of the chicken will also help draw out some of the flavors in the sparkling wine. Go for a dry sparkling wine (brut) over sweet.
  • Berry fruit salad and Tempranillo- You may not often think of drinking wine with a berry fruit salad, but Tempranillo is very fruit forward, which will help it pair with the blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries in your fruit salad. Make sure it’s served lightly chilled so the acid and tannins will be a little muted and the fruit flavors can shine.
  • Lemon drop cookies and Sauvignon Blanc- If you’ve followed the blog for long, you probably know that I love Sauvignon Blanc with anything lemon or lime. The cookies and the wine are both pretty light with high acid notes in each to complement each other. The lemon in the cookies will help draw out the citrus notes in the wine, which will allow this pairing to end your meal on a sweet lemon note.
Camping

  • Hot dogs and dry Riesling- The perfect pairing will depend some on how you dress your dog (I’m a mustard and relish girl, myself), but an important factor in any hot dog and wine pairing is acid. The acid in a dry Riesling will pair well with the salt in the hot dog but its light flavors won’t compete with the toppings.
  • Veggie skewers and Grüner Veltliner- Grüner Veltliner is a less common wine but not impossible to find at your local wine store. It’s a bright, refreshing wine with green pepper and other herbaceous notes that will work nicely with the veggie skewers. It’s also a high acid wine, so it’ll be nice and refreshing after a hot day.
  • S’mores and raspberry wine- S’mores are such a fun dessert that it’s nice to pair them with a fun wine. Really you could do any fruit wine and it would work because chocolate goes with just about every fruit under the sun. So don’t worry about whether or not fruit wine is really wine, and just go enjoy feeling like a kid again with marshmallows and chocolate all over your fingers!
By the pool

  • Buffalo chicken sliders and Gewurztraminer- If your sliders have a little (or a lot) kick to them, pair them with a slightly sweet wine to balance the heat. The sweetness of the wine will help balance the spicy chicken, while the spiciness will draw out the wine’s fruitiness.
  • Watermelon and off-dry Vouvray- Whether you eat it straight off the rind, salt it, grill it, or anything in between, watermelon is the quintessential summer treat. It may seem like it would be hard to pair, but the fruit has so many nuanced flavors that you can really play with your wine pairings. Vouvray is made with Chenin Blanc grapes, which have a refreshing acidity and fruit notes. An off-dry, or tender Vouvray has just enough residual sugar that it will complement watermelon’s sweetness.
  • Dark chocolate Brownies and Zinfandel- Dark chocolate keeps brownies from being just a smidge too sweet for Zinfandel, a bold, moderate tannin, high acid wine with some pretty pronounced fruit flavors. While sweet foods can make wines seem extra tannic, dark chocolate isn’t nearly as sweet as milk, so the wine won’t seem extra bitter. The chocolate will also help draw out some of the fruit flavors in the wine.
Summer Concert

  • Charcuterie board and Gamay- Charcuterie boards can have a wide variety of flavors, so you need a pretty versatile wine to go with everything. A light-bodied, acidic red like Gamay works well because the acid pairs nicely with the fatty meats and cheeses.
  • Quinoa salad and Rosé- Rosé can express a variety of flavors from strawberry to melon to citrus and rhubarb. This variety, especially the rhubarb, makes it perfect for a light, refreshing quinoa salad.
  • Cherry turnovers and slightly sweet sparkling wine- Cherry turnovers are great for an outdoor concert because they’re good hot or cold and they don’t make a huge mess. You could certainly go for a lightly chilled, light-bodied red with these if you prefer a still wine, but I love ending the night with a sparkling wine. A slightly sweet version will really swing with the sweetness of the dessert.

No matter what your favorite summer activity, you can make each day a celebration with your favorite wine and dessert pairing. If the first half of this year has taught me anything, it’s to treasure the little, special moments in life and to live every day to its fullest.

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