Experience NY like a Native!

Wines to Drink For Your Summer Wind Down

I've recently taken a lover. If it's just a summer fling, it will go down in history.



Vinho Verde.



We met in late April at an event and it was love at first tingly awakening in my mouth. I was struck by the flavor and the slightly sparkling quality of the wine. I was gifted with a bottle of the Casal Garcia that was served that evening and haven’t looked back.


What was left of the bottle of Vinho Verde I received at the event. I snapped this photo to send to a friend, declaring my love of the wine.

What was left of the bottle of Vinho Verde I received at the event. I snapped this photo to send to a friend, declaring my love of the wine.


Yes, it's ill-advised to consume alcohol when temperatures top 90 degrees as they have on numerous days in New York City this summer, but heat or not, people are going to drink wine. {The} Native Creative Concierge turned to a few good men to learn which wine they choose for hot August summer days in the city, afternoons at the beach or an evening picnic or BBQ with friends.




So What's In Your Wine Glass?



Though far from being an ubriacona, I do admit to having quite the taste for wine this summer. I still sully myself with a Riesling, Sancerre blanc, Grüner Veltliner or Lugano on occasion. But now I choose Vinho Verde without hesitation and have no doubts it will get me through the rest of the summer.



Turns out I'm not alone. Jack Mason, Master Sommelier and the Wine Director of Marta also pours from the same chilled bottle. "Even as temperatures outside rise, I love a good glass of wine. One of my favorite wines on a budget for a hot summer day is a partially frozen bottle of Vinho Verde from Portugal. A slightly-effervescent, acid-driven white wine combined with an hour in the freezer creates the perfect, quaffable glass that maintains a cool temperature on even the hottest of summer days." 



The budget-friendly price point of Vinho Verde made me love it all the more. Unable to find Casal Garcia on a trip to a wine shop (I’ve since had better luck), I was steered towards bottles of Beachball Vinho Verde. Bottles of Vinho Verde start at $3.99 at Warehouse Wines & Spirits in NoHo.




Lieb Cellars on the North Fork of Long Island, NY also offers a wine that won’t break the bank. Chef Sommelier Kfir Ben-Ari admits one of his summer go-to’s is their 2013 Bridge Lane White Merlot. “Visiting the cellar, already 3 times this summer, I must admit I got really addicted to this simple (screw cap) wine. This one doesn't try to be pretentious; it is winning with its simplicity.”



My attraction to Vinho Verde is in the bubbles - who doesn't love a party in their mouth? The most famous bubbly is also great for summertime drinking. "Beyond Vinho Verde, my most favorite wine for really any occasion is a bottle of Champagne,” Master Sommelier Jack Mason shares. “The perfect wine alone or with food, Champagne is at its core a refreshing beverage. In the warmer temperatures I prefer a leaner style of Champagne, such as a Blanc de Blancs, to help cool me down even further."




Perhaps you've been conditioned to save champagne for special occasions. My brother once popped a bottle of champagne and when I asked what the occasion was, his reply? "It's Tuesday.” That’s a philosophy more of us should adopt -- enjoy champagne because... life!



Flavor matters to Chef Sommelier Kfir Ben-Ari in his choice of champagne. “Especially during the summer, I would always go to champagne but I hate champagne prices. So I go for Deutz, Champagne Brut Classic, NV which you can get for under $40. It has layers of flowers and soft herbs, sourdough old bread—yes! I swear!—and a finish of white peaches and acacia honey. I mean, what else does one need in life?”



His newer selection is Graham Beck Brut Rosé NV which he describes as a “case of superb balanced and elegancy.” How should we take our Brut Rosé? “Goes well as an aperitif or even as a wine next to your braised fish dish. I would even go further and say I had a chance to enjoy this one on a recent vacation in the jacuzzi with my wife. We were both surprised with the results…”


Oh? Oh! Summer lovin’ happened so fast…




During the early aughts, I used to hit the White Zinfandel hard with my then-husband mainly because of its sweetness and affordability. I was also mocked for being a girl for drinking it. Now, rosé is all the rage. With women and men.



"I thoroughly enjoy rosés from Provence as my summer wine," shares Stephen Lloyd, Independent Wine Specialist based in Brooklyn, NY. "In Williamsburg, both men and women are huge rosé drinkers!" The split between men and women is pretty even. Men who drank rosé (no, it didn’t matter if you sipped or chugged it) were at one time mocked like I was, for being a girl, but now fellas, you can sip your brosé in peace.




Urban Winemaker Matt Baldassano is also on Team Rosé. "Semi-dry sparkling rosé wines are also fun to toast with and might give you some more body than a white but still drinks well in warm weather." Yes men drink pink too.



Provençal rosés tend to be dry, on the opposite end to the spectrum from blush wines. However, that’s a quality sought after to accompany fromage and can be bought for under $15 here in New York City according to Chef Sommelier Kfir Ben-Ari. “Ok, I know it sounds cheesy, and it really goes nicely with a French cheese, but they have this bottle at Whole Foods of Rosé de AIX en Provence 2014 at $12. I took two bottles at first and ended up buying three cases. Summer isn’t over yet… [It has] everything I’m looking for from my rosé: bone dry, mineral, a bit buttery at the end (from the obvious malolactic fermentation) and pure joy of floral bouquet of yellow and white flowers and a hint of wild strawberries.”



Don't Fear Red In The Heat



For us laypeople, we’ve been taught red wine goes with red meat. If you’re an omnivore, with access to outdoor space in NYC this summer, you’re spending any chance you can by the grill or at a friend’s barbeque. Which red wine should you choose for your next chargrilled steak or lamb kebabs off the grill? Independent Wine Specialist Stephen Lloyd loves a nice Gamay, slightly chilled. I learned on my trip to Warehouse Wines that Beaujolais Nouveau is the most notable wine made from Gamay grapes.




A grape that doesn’t seem to command as much attention is the Cabernet Franc. Yet leave it to a “wine guy” to know what’s what for summer entertaining. A favorite of Ben-Ari is Domaine de la Chanteleuserie Bourgueil 2012. “Cabernet Franc is probably my favorite red grape for the hot weather. Here, with a little help (10%) of Cabernet Sauvignon you get an affordable masterpiece that could accommodate any BBQ and could possible be a star!”



Red, white or pink aren't your only wine options to enjoy during this last month of summer. “If you want to be different, try some dry fruit wine such as apple, apricot, or my favorite blueberry or a chilled Mead (honey wine),” suggests Matt Baldassano, Urban Winemaker. Not surprising, one winemaker is good friends with another. “The best fruit winery I know, Hermit Woods is in Meredith, New Hampshire.”



What Is That In My Wine?


Chill your wine with ice cubes? I think we all know someone who’ll scoff at your oeno-faux pass. Mention to them that you “cut” your red wine with pineapple juice and prepare to witness a conniption fit. We love our wine purists who can’t fathom why anyone would mix wine with anything. They most likely come from the same school of thought as Chef Sommelier Kfir Ben-Ari: If you put anything into my wine, including an ice cube – I’ll simply kill you on the spot.



Duly noted.



We'll continue our discussion of wine cocktails over here, where Ben-Ari and company can't hear us. I enjoy Vinho Verde with ginger ale. Read: bubbles! I also mix and freeze it with cranberry lemonade or mango nectar for my wine slushies. My next Vinho Verde experience will be with frozen watermelon chunks.



I asked my wine guys for their wine cocktail suggestions to get us through to Labor Day. Urban Winemaker Matt Baldassano has a recipe for a wine cocktail made with rosé. “I have a recipe called the Haymaker - 3 parts rosé, two parts Sprite, one part St. Germain, ½ part Everclear with fresh squeezed limes. If Everclear isn't available use two parts St. Germain and seltzer water instead of Sprite.” 




If you’re a little less adventurous, you may enjoy the wine cocktails preferred by Independent Wine Specialist Stephen Lloyd. “Wine cocktails I enjoy are simple and undeniable - White Sangria and Wine Spritzer with infused Aperol or Campari - just a dash or two.”



September is waving us in. Whether with white, red, sparkling, rosé or in cocktail form, we can make the most of what's left of this hot, sticky New York City summer. Chi porta de bere?


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Special thanks to the staff of Warehouse Wines & Spirits for allowing me to clog their aisles while I snapped photos. And of course, for the Vinho Verde.

Special thanks to the staff of Warehouse Wines & Spirits for allowing me to clog their aisles while I snapped photos. And of course, for the Vinho Verde.