Change, as much as variety, adds spice to life. And in summer, change means reaching for wines that echo the fresh, easy spirit of the season. Gone are winter’s sturdy, full-bodied wines, and in their place come crisp whites, fruity rosés and light reds, all youthful, wellpriced and perfect for a picnic.
Take Ruffino Lumina Pinot Grigio 2006 ($13) from Italy’s Friuli region. Brilliantly clear and pale yellow in color, its aroma conjures a mélange of fruits and flowers, its acidity is lively and refreshing, and throughout there is a soft hint of honey. An added benefit for a picnic, the bottle features a screwcap, not a cork.
Also from Friuli, Ruffino offers us Borgo Conventi Sauvignon 2006, Collio ($15). Bright yellow with a nose that mingles whiffs of clover, grapefruit and new-mown grass, its taste calls to mind ripe pear and offers a long and satisfying finish.
Both of these silky whites are winning companions with seafood salads, from shrimp and lobster to Niçoise, or serve well as apéritifs to sip while setting out the picnic.
Rosé, a wine for all seasons, is especially delightful in summer. Tavel, the French region noted for its rosés, provides a superb example in a Prieuré de Montézargues 2006 vintage ($23). As fruit-driven as a wine can be, it has the comely color of a raspberry and a taste that is, well, simply delicious.
Grilled meats partner best with red wine. But this is summer. No mature, high-alcohol reds need apply. Instead, look for Hogue Genesis Merlot 2004 from Washington State. At $16 — with a little Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah blended in, a show of fruit and a touch of mintiness — it is forceful enough for barbecued ribs, gentle enough for hamburgers.
Consider another red possibility in Dizeno Pinot Noir 2006 ($12) from Germany’s Rheinhessen region. Surprisingly deep in color, it is smooth, light-bodied and easy on the palate.
All of these are young, lively and easy-to-drink wines that offer a joyful quaff rather than a solemn toast. They are, in short, what summer is all about.
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