A rich red by the winter fire, a crisp rosé on a sunny summer day. Though wine preferences are highly personal, there is a season for every wine – the serving temperature, the foods they pair with, the abv all influence the ideal choice. Which wines pair best with lighter fare and hot days? Read on to discover a few Tuscan wines for summer.
Long, hot summer days and nights bring to mind wines that are thirst-quenching, easy and have the right level of acidity. Enogastronomical consultant, Massimo Catellani of AIS Toscana and honorary ambassador of Chianti Classico and Chevalier du Tastevin offers a few suggestions for choosing the best fresh Tuscan wines which also pair exceptionally well with lighter cuisine.
From the beach or a boat to a trip out of town or a picnic under the cool breeze of an ancient tree, the first key to choosing the right wine is knowing both the specific dish it will be served with and also the location where it will be served.
For a meal served on a boat, Castellani advises selecting a bubbly or a rosé, such as a Tuscany Metodo Classico or a Sangiovese rosé. These wines are the perfect match for the paired-down food so often served on a boat, like fish, shellfish, and crudités.
If the location is a romantic sunset meal on the beach, consider pairing shellfish with a wine that is fruity and fresh like a Bolgheri Rosato or a Maremma Toscana Rosato. Plus, the pink hue of the wine goes perfectly with the warm glow of the setting sun.
For a less romantic beachside meal with friends, an easy and delicious menu might consist of cold rice dishes or seafood salads, which are quick to prepare and easy to transport. “In this case,” suggests Castellani, “a fruity Vermentino from the Tyrrhenian Coast, either from Colli Apuani di Candia or from Suvereto and Val di Cornia, goes well with the cheerful colors of the fresh vegetables.”
At a hot-weather picnic, with foods such as Panzanella salad and plates of fresh cheeses like pecorino, calls for something different. The sommelier proposes a Chardonnay-Pinot Bianco blend like Pomino Bianco or a Montecarlo Bianco. If the menu includes a barbecue, chooses a fuller bodied wine such as a Chianti Classico Riserva or a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Just be careful to monitor the wine’s temperature so that it doesn’t become too warm.
Going up to higher altitudes for an excursion in the mountains – imagine hiking along the Apennine paths of Tuscany – you could opt for a nice board of cold cuts or a tasty bread and tomato soup known as Pappa al Pomodoro. “With these,” Castellani points out, “I suggest trying a Vernaccia di San Gimignano or an Ansonica Costa dell’Argentario. If you prefer red wine instead, a valid alternative can be a Cortona Syrah or an Orcia Rosso.”
Of course, summer sweets also need their perfect wine match, and Castellani advises choosing wines that he calls ‘enological pass-par touts’ that go well with everything. One of these is a Moscadello di Montalcino that is the perfect match for peaches, apricots, and citrus fruits. Another great option is an Elba Aleatico, ideal for panna cotta or Bavarian creams and berries.
So, whether summer dining is a barbecue at home, a meal on a boat, or a picnic on the beach or in the mountains, don’t forget to bring along that perfect bottle of wine. What better way is there to enjoy the bella stagione than to head outdoors with summer’s sunny blue skies and a few delicious eats to nibble on.