Late Summer Wines You May or May Not Know
One of my favorite things to do is to introduce my friends to wines they may not have otherwise considered. So let’s pretend you just texted me from a restaurant or the wine store, and want to some recommendations. Some of these you may have already heard of, or maybe they’re all new to you. Either way, I think at least one of these will satisfy some lingering summer cravings.
Picpoul de Pinet (PICK-pull deh PEE-nay) hails from the sunny, warm Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France. If you’re typically a Sauvignon Blanc lover, you’ll dig this. Known for its bold citrus and mouthwatering acidity, this crisp white’s namesake actually loosely translates to “lip stinger,” but I promise there’s nothing painful about it. I’m happy to see Picpoul offered on more and more restaurant menus, and it’s easy to find in wine shops if you know what you’re looking for. Seek out the tall, green, slender bottle, with a raised Cather cross (a symbol of this region) on the glass. Bonus: it’s incredibly affordable, typically at $10-20, so you have no excuse not to try it, especially with oysters or other seafood options!
- Grüner Veltliner (GREW-ner velt-LEE-ner) is otherwise known simply as Grüner. This white is a darling of Austria, and I’m here for it. High acidity is a key component, and it often finishes dry and crisp, though that can vary, depending on the winemaker’s vision. My favorite telltale sign of a Grüner is a flavor of white pepper on the back end.
Chenin Blanc (SHEN-in BLAHNK): Want something with a little more body? Floral aromas and high acidity balance with apple, stonefruit, and pear, leading to a finish that is dry, but has some more oomph than the other two whites. It can also take on some toasty and buttery characteristics when aged in oak, similar to Chardonnay. Chenin Blanc is super versatile, depending on where it’s grown and in what tradition. I’m a big fan of a Loire Valley (France) Chenin Blanc, where the cool climate influences a crisp, dry finish; however you’ll find it in off-dry, sparkling, and even sweet expressions, from France to Oregon to South Africa.
Zweigelt (ZVY-gelt) is a light bodied red wine from Austria. This is a really fun one to try if you’re into earthy Pinot Noir or Gamay, plus it’s often affordable and in a liter bottle. Zweigelt bursts forth with tart red fruit, namely cherry and raspberry, bright but familiar baking spices like cinnamon, high acidity, and light-to-medium tannins, often with some savory, leathery notes. Serve this one slightly chilled and let it open up for 45 minutes in a decanter, glass, or opened bottle. I personally love noting how the flavor evolves in my glass as it breathes and warms, as well as how it changes with food!
Unoaked Tempranillo (TEMP-pra-NEE-yo) if you love the crowned jewel of Rioja, Spain, seek out a young (“Joven”) Tempranillo that hasn’t seen any oak aging, and taste a different side to this awesome varietal. You’ll get a lot more bright fruit, like crushed raspberries, and even licorice, and while it will finish dry, it will be lighter than the deep, smokiness of an oaked Tempranillo.
I hope this list inspires you to venture outside your comfort zone a bit! Let me know if any of these are a favorite of yours as well, or what you think after trying them. Cheers to liquid homework!
As a Scout & Cellar Wine Consultant and full time Sign Language Interpreter, Laura believes in truly loving what you do every day. After leaving the actress life in LA, she moved to Nashville four years ago, and continues to find more that she loves about the city. Community is key to Laura, so don’t be surprised if she cooks you a meal, pours you a glass, and dives into deep conversation; you'll be friends in no time.