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Two Women on Wine: Enjoy a festival of summer wines

Have a variety of wines on hand for food parings

Posted: June 18, 2009 3:31 p.m.
Updated: June 19, 2009 6:06 a.m.

Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier Two Women on Wine

 
Summer is right around the corner and we couldn't be happier. We've dusted off the patio furniture and are ready for candlelit patio dinners with family and friends on balmy nights. Our grill goes into overtime during the summer. We cook just about everything on the grill, from chicken or fish kabobs to steak and baby-back ribs, vegetables, hamburgers and hot dogs.

As summer approaches, we make sure we have a variety of wines on hand that will suit the occasion and pair with whatever we're cooking.

To get things started on a warm summer evening, we like to serve Prosecco, the refreshing, sparkling Italian wine. Prosecco is lightly fruity from dry to semi-dry, and makes a great aperitif in place of heavy, alcohol-laden cocktails. And on a warm summer evening, few things are more refreshing than a glass of well-chilled Prosecco.

For a special treat at a weekend brunch, add a few drops of peach nectar to a glass of Prosecco to make a Bellini cocktail.
Rosé (also rosato or rosado) is another light, crisp and very drinkable wine that we keep on hand in the summer. Also served chilled, rosé is outstanding with grilled foods like chicken, vegetables, salmon, even sausage and lamb. Rosé won't overwhelm food, because it's got the right balance of fruit and acidity.

Pinot Noir has a place at the table year-round because it is the most food-friendly of the red wines. It goes with just about everything, apart from very heavy foods. For summer, Pinot Noir is especially well-paired for chicken, cedar-plank salmon and other grilled fish, roasted vegetables, and turkey burgers.

Chardonnay is still very popular at our summer get-togethers, so we're well-supplied with it. This summer, however, we'd like to introduce our guests to one of Spain's most important whites, Albarino. Medium-bodied and more complex than the average white, Albarino delights the palate with its flavors of flowers, apple and peach, citrus, and cinnamon. Nicely chilled, it pairs well with seafood.

Barbecued baby back pork ribs smothered in a spicy, tangy sauce is one of our favorite summer feasts. While Zinfandel and Chianti work well with barbecue, we like to surprise people with a glass of Riesling served with ribs. Now that's thinking outside the box! This dry to semi-dry wine, which is high in acidity and rich in minerals, pairs beautifully with spicy foods, even Chinese and Thai.

Another surprising barbecue-wine pairing is Gewurztraminer, an intensely aromatic, full-bodied white that works well with rich and spicy foods, especially tangy barbeque sauces.

Summer wouldn't be summer without grilled steaks and hamburgers. This summer, instead of Cabernet Sauvignon, which is perfectly fine with steak, we're going to serve Argentina's premier wine, Malbec. Few wines enhance beef as well as this earthy, full-bodied varietal.

A word of caution: Wine does not react well to summer heat. Keep sparkling wines, rosé and whites well-chilled. Red wine should be kept in a cool place away from sun and heat.

May this summer be a festival of good family and friends, good food, and good wine. Happy summer! Cheers!

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