What to Drink Now: Crave Local’s Top Wine Picks for Summer Entertaining
Well, it’s official! Summer is finally upon us, temperatures in the South are soaring, and the universe is about to be dominated by rosé wine Instagram hashtags: #roseallday, #yeswayrose, #roseseason, #roseyay, and on and on.
Snapchats and pictures will overflow with all things pink, beach, poolside, and probably a few odd looking adult floaties with rainbows and unicorns. Beyond our now rosé colored world, however, summer also means grilling season, and along with that, an entire plethora of options for wine pairings and flavor combinations.
This year, we’re sharing our favorite red wines, white, and yes…rosé selections that can take you through summer and beyond.
So, grab a glass, pop a bottle, and let’s get to sipping with Crave Local’s top wine picks for summer!
Summer Red Wine Picks
Caroso Montepulciano D’Abruzzo DOP Riserva 2016, Italy – SRP $22
A big bold red that’s sure to please, Caroso’s Montepulciano is a good choice for gift giving this summer. A dark, ruby red in the glass, this Italian red wine is earthy on the nose, with cassis and dark berries. The palate opens to black mulberry, red raspberry, dried plums, and spice. Medium bodied with a dry, tannic finish, this wine will pair very well with game meats, steaks on the grill, or portabello mushrooms with mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and balsamic basil dressing. Drink now through 2020, 90 points.
Castello Di Albola, 2013 Chianti DOCG, Italy – SRP $19
Hand-picked, and then carefully fermented in the traditional skin-on method, Castello di Albola, chooses the best Sangiovese and Canaiolo grapes for their Chianti Classico, creating red wine that’s called for rich, meaty pairings and full flavored dishes. The nose is soft and elegant, with dried cherries and leather on the ruby red rim. The palate is elegant and refined, with more bright cherry notes, lemon zest, and spice. Clean, and fruit forward, drink this Italian red with smoked sausages on the grill, or a big, juicy steak. Drink now through 2019, 90 points.
Kosher Psagot PEAK 2014, Jerusalem Mountains, Israel – SRP $50
You might not think of Jerusalem as the ideal terroir for growing wine, but trust us when we say, that could not be further from the truth. Some of the best wines are currently being grown and imported from Israel, and Psagot’s PEAK red blend is a stellar example of just that. Made from three French varietals – Syrah, Petit Syrah, and a touch of Mourvèdre, it’s a dry, smoky beast that’s a great pairing with filet mignon-definitely one of our favorite top wine picks for summer.
Deep and inky in color, the palate on this Kosher wine exhibits flavors of dark berries, tobacco, and leather, with a full body, long legs, and medium tannins. A round mouthfeel and balanced acidity also make it the perfect partner for beef roasts and aged cheeses.
Drink now through 2019, 90 points.
Summer White Wine Picks
Ciu Ciu Merlettaie, Offida Pecorino DOCG, Offida, Italy – SRP $19
Like the ancient art of bobbin lace-making in Offida, Italy, the Pecorino grape is slowing beginning to make a comeback. Thought to be nearly extinct for many years, wild vines were found in the Marche region, and are now flourishing throughout the country. Merlettaie’s Pecorino is aged 6 months on the lees in oak, and creating a dry wine with a fresh, citrus and melon-like bouquet, medium body, and a nice minerality. Green melon, crisp apple, and a bit of vanilla thanks to the oak make this a great summer wine.
Think of it like Pinot Grigio’s bigger brother, and pair it with anything you’d normally choose a Sauv Blanc for, like poultry, fish, or vegetarian dishes. Drink now through 2019, 91 points.
Generally found in Austria, Grüner Veltliner is a crisp wine varietal that pairs unusually well with difficult foods like artichokes and asparagus. Although we’re big fans of Austrian wines, Snowbirds version is a bit more built for the American palate. With green apple, tropical fruits, and grapefruit zest on the finish, it’s an easy going white wine that showcases Washington State’s volcanic soil minerality, and bright, fresh flavors.
Although Chef McFadden intended for Snowbirds to be paired with food, their all American Grüner drinks quite well on its own. Pair it with lemon cod, scallops, or of course, asparagus and artichoke salad. Drink now through 2018, 90 points.
Sterling Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Napa Valley – SRP $10-18
For many years, Sterling Vineyards has established itself as a leader in wine production, dominating both national and international wine sales for the region. Their latest rebrand is an upgrade to the original matte white wine label design, adding a shimmery silver embossed label to most of their varietals. ( A nice touch if you need a last minute hostess gift.)
Our team was provided with a sample of their 2015 Sterling Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc and new package design for review, and noted they had also adjusted their flavor profile. Soft on the palate, this vintage is aged with 85% of the blend in stainless steel, and the remaining 15% in neutral French oak, creating what might be described as a cross over between buttery Napa Chardonnay and traditionally crisp, dry Sauvignon Blanc. Notes of stone fruits, pear, and citrus are present, as well as a creamy, and slightly sweet finish.
Pair it with a peach tart or lighter barbecue fare for an easy going, summer sipper. Drink now, 87 points.
Tommasi Le Rosse Pinot Grigio 2015, Veneto, Italy – SRP $17
Back on our list, for the second year in a row, is Tommasi Le Rosse Pinot Grigio. Although we’re not usually big fans of Pinot Grigio (unfortunately, many mass produced Pinot Grigio’s lack flavor and substance), this is one of our top picks and best buys for summer wines!
Vinified in stainless steel tanks for four months, Tommasi’s 2015 Pinot Grigio is a pale straw yellow with a chartreuse rim. Clean and grassy on the nose, this wine showcases a medium body with lemon peel, white citrus flower, and white peach on the palate, ending with a crisp, dry finish that makes it perfect for summer food pairings. Pair it with shellfish, light appetizers, or aged sheep’s milk gouda. A refreshing, top wine pick for summer!
Drink now through 2018, 91 points.
Barrymore by Carmel Road Rosé of Pinot Noir 2016, Monterey County – SRP $23
From actress Drew Barrymore and winemaker Kris Kato, this Monterey County rosé is as delicate and fresh as one would expect.
Crisp and fruity on the palate, this 100% Pinot Noir wine exhibits notes of red berries, white peach, and apricot, along with sweet orange and citrus flower on the nose. A nice, balanced acidity, this rosé will pair well with shellfish, Asian-inspired dishes, and grilled vegetables like zucchini or romaine hearts with a Dijon vinaigrette dressing.
Drink now through early 2018, 89 points.
Chateau d’Esclans Rosé Whispering Angel 2016, Provence – SRP $19
Years ago, we met Sacha Lichine on the rooftop of a hotel overlooking the Atlantic ocean, as he was making his US debut with Whispering Angel. As ‘heavenly’ now as it was then, the Château d’Esclans estate and winery produces some of the world’s leading rosé wines. The portfolio includes four premium rosés with an array of depth and flavor.
Blended from Grenache, Rolle (Vermintino), and Cinsault grapes, it is delicate and floral, with silky berries contrasting with bright grapefruit and citrus. Whispering Angel remains dry and crisp, with Provence’s noted minerality and finish. It’s the perfect choice for drinking poolside, or with ceviche on the patio. Drink now through 2018, 92 points.
Marqués de Riscal Rosado 2015, Rioja, Spain – SRP $10
A lively salmon-pink in color, this Tempranillo and Garnacha varietal rosé is a simple, quaffable wine, at an affordable price. A mild growing season with no extreme heat or cold allowed the vines to flourish, creating a bumper crop harvest for the winery.
With bright raspberry and wild strawberry flavors on the palate, look for notes of white flower and papaya on the nose. Light tannins are present, along with a medium body, and a crisp, clean finish. Pair it with grilled shrimp on the barbecue, salmon cakes, or creamy pasta dishes.
Drink young, through 2017, 88 points.
Psagot Rosé 2016, Jerusalem, Israel (Kosher Wine) – SRP $20
Keep kosher for summer with this bright little gem from Psagot’s 2016 late summer rosé.
Made in the saignée method, winemaker Yaacov Oryah blended Merlot and Syrah together for initial fermentation, then added in a separate lot of Petite Sirah later into the fermentation process. As is typical of Israeli wines, high minerality was present, accentuating the dark berries and wild strawberry notes, as well as dried cranberries, grapefruit zest, and a hint of salinity.
Don’t expect a pale, whispery rosé here, as this one definitely skews toward a fuller body and bigger flavors. Pairing recommendations are salmon on the grill with a lemon sauce, panko crusted pork chops, or a sour orange tart.
Drink now through 2018, 91 points.
Snowbirds Vintners Rosé 2016, Lake Chelan AVA – SRP $18
Jam out this summer with all American rosé Snowbirds Vintners! A brand new portfolio, created by Chef Jamie McFadden and winemaker Norm Saley to make food pairings easier, their newest release is a Rhône-style rosé from the Lake Chelan AVA, in Washington State.
Shimmering salmon in color, this juicy, fruit forward rosé exhibits bright aromas of wild strawberries and melon, as well as citrus flower on the nose. Comprised of Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Syrah varietals, the palate is peach jam and strawberries, with mouthwatering acidity, and a crisp, mineral finish. Quaffable is an understatement, as the Snowbirds team poured over three cases of the rosé at a recent wine event in Orlando, making it clearly apparent that Snowbirds is THE choice for summer rosé wine! Drink this one in your Corksicle wine chiller at the beach, poolside, or on a boat with friends.
Chef Jamie McFadden, Proprietor of Snowbirds Vintners, recommends pairing Snowbirds 2016 Rosé with smoked corn, queso fresco, and avocado toasts, or golden fried chicken.
Drink now through 2018, 90 points.
Villa Gemma Cerasuelo D’Abruzzo DOC, Italy – SRP $19
Not quite a red, not quite rosé, this 100% Montepulciano summer wine is a unique one, no doubt. Intense on the palate with flavors of pomegranate, black cherry preserves, and spice, and a nose of violets and dark berries, you can serve is chilled, or take it out of the fridge about a half hour before serving to allow the wine to open a bit more. Pair this one with grilled pizza, portabella topped burgers, or cold cuts and aged cheeses. Drink now, 89 points.
Whatever your wine choice, don’t be afraid to switch it up, and throw the rules out the window. After all, if rosé can be ‘all day’, there’s no reason you can’t drink pink, white, or even red wine during summer months!