It is that time of year when the temperatures consistently are in the low to mid 90s. What better time to start stocking up on your favorite wines, and other beverages, for your guests, and you to enjoy either in your back yard or whilst on vacation. Here are my summer go-to tea/juices, spirits and wines that will not only quench your thirst, but also make a statement that you enjoy quality beverages that won’t break your bank account!
A refreshingly new non-alcoholic beverage
I’ll start out with a fairly new product that I have enjoyed over the last month or so; it’s called “Joe’s” Half & Half by Red Jacket Orchards. It is a combination of lemon, apple, and tea. This is a cold pressed apple and lemon, all natural/no sugar or water added, and comes in other great flavors, blackcurrant, raspberry, and cranberry to name a few. These can be found at your local Whole Foods and Fresh Market stores.
I’m not into the plain old vodkas that are currently on the market. Instead, I look for remarkable products that infuse the scent of herbs and flowers into my cocktails when entertaining guests for a light, luscious libation! My favorite summer cocktail mix is from Deep Eddy Vodka. The vodka is filtered 6 times over charcoal, allowing all the flavors to remain in the drink. Deep Eddy Lemon is their newest beverage and will add a refreshing component to your late afternoon or early evening soiree. You can find most or all of Deep Eddy Vodkas at ABC Fine Wines and Spirits, Total Wine and More and at Publix in the Winter Park Village location in Florida (Liquor store).
Summer is never complete without a great selection of wines in your cellar or wine rack. Here’s my selection for your enjoyment:
Kim Crawford Pinot Gris, Marlborough 2014 — This wine has some nice pear and crisp apple aromas and subtle orange zest and honeysuckle on the palate. These wines are delicious with spicy Asian cuisine, freshly shucked Oysters from Apalachicola, or try it with an aged cheddar cheese from Kerrygold. Kim Crawford also has an amazing unoaked Chardonnay that you can keep around for a couple of years on your wine rack before opening, and a selection of Sauvignon Blancs.
Tom Gore Vineyards Field Blend is a wine I recently tried with some neighbors. Tom Gore is a second-generation farmer from Sonoma County, California. He was raised to grow grapes and make wine from a young age. The “Field Blend” has five grape varieties in it — Petit Verdot, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Tempranillo. This wine has notes of blackberries and dark plums on the nose and palate; it is what I call an “inky” wine. Pair it with a beautiful rich tangy blue cheese, or grilled lamb lollipops. Tom Gore Vineyard also has a great full-bodied Chardonnay and a Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley in Sonoma County. (You can find these wines at also at your ABC Fine Wines & Spirits in Central Florida.)
Rosés are classic summer sippin’ wines. I recently tried four very good Rosés but one just took my palate to the next level of exceptionalness. This Rosé is produced by a winemaker I have mentioned in past articles, Mark Wallraff of Mosella Wine and makes a remarkable Spätburgunder (German for Pinot Noir) Rosé 2008. This is 100% Pinot Noir with some light floral and herbaceous tones on the nose with ripe red cherries and field strawberries on the palate and has a slight off-dry finish. This wine is amazing with roasted pork, grilled Mahi-Mahi, or even a fresh garden salad. I have this information from the winemaker — purchase 6 bottles or a case from infinitewine.com you can add the code “Mosella” in the checkout cart and receive a discount on your wine purchase. You can also find the rest of the Mosella Portfolio of wines there for your choosing … my recommendation to accompany the Rosé would be the Piesporter Kabinett Feinherb, 2011.
The second recommendation comes from Spain. Rosa María Pascual, one of three winemakers at Veleta Wine crafted the second Rosé I tasted. This winery is the brainchild of Juan and Nola Palomar and located in Grenada, Spain. Their “Rosada” (Spanish for Rosé) is made from 85% Tempranillo grape and 15% other red varieties. I thought this wine was eclectically sophisticated with heaps of pomegranate, strawberries, with subtle ripe melon. This wine pairs well with grilled Salmon, grilled octopus or even duck confit.
About 2 months ago, I tasted a beautifully complex South African dry Rosé called Lace by Almenkerk from Sovereign Selection. There were opulent ripe strawberry aromas on the nose and also on the palate, there is also an unexpected savory note of cured salami toward the back palate. Pair this wine with any grilled fish, roasted root vegetables, or simply with a selection of soft and hard cheeses. (This wine can be purchased at Petty’s Meat Market in Florida.)
The final Rosé came from the Côtes du Rhône region of France from winemaker E. Guigal, Rosé 2013. This wine was a little lighter on my palate with some zippy lemony and strawberry notes on the nose. The mouth feel was quite elegant with some floral notes and therefore needs some elegant pairings such as poached sea bass or steamed clams/mussels, even butter poached lobster. This wine can be found at your favorite wine store.
For those of you who want an all-around quintessential summer wine, it has to be Sauvignon Blanc, especially from cooler climates. Some of the best grapes are grown in places like the Loire Valley in France, coastal South Africa and on both islands of New Zealand. People love the grapefruit rind, lime zest, fresh-cut green bell or jalapeno pepper, passion fruit, green apple, and the herbal notes of verbena that is the ubiquitous aromas and flavor profile of this wine. My favorite brand that makes an amazing Sauvignon Blanc is Nobilo Icon 2014 from Marlborough. Their wine has always been consistently fruity with those signature aromas of grapefruit, ripe pineapple and guava with some fresh cut herbs and lemon zest on the palate. Pair with fresh Ahi tuna or fresh caught Red Snapper on the BBQ grill.
Recently I had the pleasure of a South African private wine tasting courtesy of Sovereign Selection. While all the wines were amazing, the one which really was perfect for summer was their Kanu Chenin Blanc or as it is called, the Kanu KCB 2013. It is made from 100% Chenin Blanc and has citrusy notes such as lemon and lime zest. There is a touch of sweetness, but this gives way to the acidic nature of this grape. (Sovereign offers many wines from South Africa and can be found at Petty’s Meat Market in Longwood, Florida.)
I know the list of beverages is long, but so can be the heat of the summer!
Here’s to an awesome summer of sippin and grillin!