Now that we’re into muggy August, we thought it would be a good idea to seek summer drinking advice from one of the top wine professionals working today: Miguel Hernandez, the assistant food and beverage director at the remarkable 10 Arts Bistro & Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton in Philadelphia.
Miguel is as passionate about the world of wine and spirits as anyone I know, and easily among the most knowledgeable. He spun my casual email request for five affordable summertime recommendations into a lesson on how top sommeliers think about what they recommend. Beyond the specific bottles, pay attention to the logic behind each. His explanations are a phenomenal lesson for us all.
I’ll let Miguel take it from here:
1) Vinho Verde, Portugal: Vinho Verde is a region in Northern Portugal, best known for its slightly effervescent white wines… [The] wines of the region are also recognized for their low alcohol content and very light, citrusy body, meaning they are perfect on even the hottest days — and that you can enjoy a few glasses and still function just fine. Try Lagosta.
2) Pinot Gris, OR: Sure, we love Chardonnay as much as anyone, but the heat of summer — and the lighter foods associated with it — make us crave something a little more vibrant. Trade up from your basic Italian Pinot Grigio to Oregon’s entry from the same grape — just with the French spelling. Slightly floral with notes of tangerine and pear, the 2012 from Adelsheim [pairs well] with an arugula and summery berry salad with goat cheese.
3) Pouilly Fume, France: I’m positive we’ve all had our fair share of Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand this season — so why not try a bottle from the original home of the varietal, France’s Loire Valley. The region of Pouilly Fume neighbors famous Sancerre, and is known for Sauv Blancs that are balanced and structured — perhaps a bit more full-bodied than their Down Under counterparts. Pick up a bottle of Domaine Bruno Blondelet, and enjoy some oysters and grilled clams.
4) Provence Rosé, France: A bit farther south in France, and we are in Provence, a very warm region known for its fields of lavender and red grapes. What does one do when your area is too hot to grow white grapes? Make rosé wine! Completely dry, refreshing and aromatic at the same time, the rosé wines of the region pair with a wide variety of foods, and look very pretty in the glass, too! This is certainly no white zin! Try Chateau Mascaronne, about $15.
5) Roero Nebbiolo, Italy: The region of Roero in Piedmont (Northwestern Italy) is very close physically to the regions of Barolo and Barbaresco, but a world away in terms of style and affordability. If you like Pinot Noir, pick up this Nebbiolo-based red, which is the same grape as those aforementioned regions, but much softer and lighter in intensity. Whether you are grilling sausages, burgers or filet mignon, you’ll find the light character of this wine perfectly enjoyable. Look for Fratelli Povero, a great value at around $16. Bonus: The Roero region also makes whites, made from the Arneis grape, that are also absolutely delicious!