Summer is the season of languid days spent poolside, grilling in the yard, floating down the river and imbibing under shade sought, conquered and claimed with a stocked cooler and folding chair. The ‘Dog Days of Summer’ is a phrase reserved for the hottest, most sultry, days of the summer months. In Texas, that often mean skyrocketing temperatures in the triple digits. In the doldrums of the Dog Days few things can quench that deep thirst as much as a cold beer. But some cuisine just begs for a glass with a bit of refinement. Sometimes, nothing but a good glass of wine will do.
When seeking wines that refresh, pay close attention to wines that are considered high in acid. When drinking white wines, the vibrant lift and movement of flavor over the palate is well carried by the bright acidity. The acidic ‘backbone’ of the wine refreshes the palate by stripping the mouth clean and enticing your palate for another sip. Consider what happens after swigging a tart Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio or unoaked Chardonnay: you begin to salivate. This is your body’s attempt to replenish the natural PH in your mouth.
Acidity in wine also comes into play in food and wine pairing. The MVP of summertime fare tends to be salt or natural brininess in seafood. The natural neutralizer for saltiness in food is acidity in wine. You can test this theory with well-seasoned seafood on the grill, raw oysters, a goat cheese and strawberry summer salad or the ‘everyman’ menu of hot weather cuisine: Potato salad, hot dogs and potato chips. Pair a potato chip with a cold glass of lightly sparkling and acidic Vinho Verde and you will find the salt of the chip to be lessened and the acidity of the wine to be soothed.
A favorite tamer of rising temps is Rosé wine. Too often the first thing that comes to mind at the mention of Pink wine is the sickly sweet White Zinfandel found in the hand of the tipsy & overly affectionate Aunt at a family function, or an ever present 'Box of Blush’ at the back of grandma’s fridge. However, Rosé wines have been a revered style that has found a place in every winemaking community in the world for several centuries, and Rosé wine has spent its days in the hands of royalty as the preferred and most noble style of production. With a high acidity and natural complexity, these wines are ideal for warm weather and a wide range of pairings. For those of you that are still scoffing at the idea of drinking pink this summer, remember that pink wines are at heart lightly macerated red wines.
The question to address when seeking a Rosé is, “How Dry?” Dryness in wine is most simply the lack of sugar. You will find most ‘Old World’ wines (those from France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Spain) to be bone dry, or at most off-dry; and you will find richer fruits and sweeter options in the New World. Traditionally Rosé wine is produced using one of several methods; Light maceration, Vin Gris or Saignée (to bleed).
Maceration: The initial free fun Juice of Red Wine is white. The darkened color is gained from the contact of the juice with the grape skins. This is called maceration. Rosé wines can gain their pink color by limited time with the skins.
Vin Gris: Translating to ‘Gray Wine’, this method produces a Rosé that is nearly white. The wines are made with no maceration time and very soft color is gained from the immediate pressing of red skin grapes.
Saignée: This process produces more complex and richly colored Rosé wines and is the by-product of red wine production. A small percentage of juice is ‘bled off’ during the maceration of red grapes to improve the ratio of juice to must (solids) to improve the intensity. This bled off wine is then fermented into Rosé wine.
We are now ready for refreshment! Try these Texas wines on tap with your favorite summer dish and find your own little slice of cool for the impending Dog Days.
2012 RE:ROOTED 210: Gruner Veltliner
An Austrian native grape being grown in the high elevations of the Texas High Plains AVA, this is a perfect ‘porch pounder’. With brilliant acidity and bright luscious tropical melon notes, this wine is both refreshing and palate pleasing.
2020 Llano Estacado Signature Rosé
Produced in the ‘direct press’ style, this bone dry and light bodied Rosé is made with the staple varieties of the Rhone Valley. With notes of juicy watermelon fruit, wet slate, and high acid each sip leaves you wanting more.
2021 Pedernales Cellars Rosé
Don’t let the rich pink color fool you. This cuvee blend is medium bodied but shows notes of pink grapefruit and salinity. A great wine to pair with food from the grill.
Jennifer Beckmann and her husband John own the Re:Rooted 210 Urban Winery in Hemisfair
Refreshing rosé and white wines are a great choice in the summer.