I was having a conversation with a friend of mine in the wine business years ago and he couldn’t wrap his head around why some people thought you only drink rosé during the summer.
He said, “It’s the perfect wine to drink year round!”
Because of that conversation, I started to think about how there are two types of drinkers out there: the adventurous drinker, who is excited to try new things; and the “I’m good” drinker that sticks to what they know. The second type will drink lite beer when they are outside, pregame with vodka tonics, and order a Cabernet no matter what time of year it is or what they are eating. And either is totally fine. I’ll say that there is nothing wrong with knowing what you like and keeping it in your wheelhouse.
In case you are in the adventurous camp, I’ve put together a little guide on when to change things up.
Here are a few things to look for in summertime cocktails — Silver Tequila (one of my favorites) or gin-based cocktails with seasonal fruits. Mixologists, much like chefs, like to use fresh fruit in their specialty drinks and it doesn’t get much fresher than fruit that just showed up. Gin is a botanical-based spirit that is much more versatile than just a gin and tonic. It has so many available avenues to work with. A few things to try would be champagne cocktails (like a French 75) or even anything with St. Germain (an elderflower liqueur).
If you want to keep it simple, then try sipping on a nice silver Tequila with a lime wedge and a few ice cubes. Disclaimer: I did say sip, not shoot. A big misconception about tequila is that there are only two ways to enjoy it. One is to shoot it and the other is in a margarita. Silver means it doesn’t get the long oak treatment that can make it heavy and rich. Sipping it like a nice whiskey is a great way to enjoy the subtle expressions of Silver or Blanco Tequila. Try this method with Clase Azul, Casamigos or Heradurra.
It is really fun to add some new wines to your repertoire during this time of year. Changing from red to white can be difficult for some, so why not think to go from heavy to light? If you are a red wine drinker, you can easily make the transition from Cabernet to Cote du Rhone or from California Pinot Noir to Gamay. There are plenty of options with white wine as well. Some of my favorite wines for summertime are Chenin Blanc and Picpoul de Pinet. For Chenin Blanc, you can look for something from Vouvray, France or South Africa. These wines have a slightly fruity flavor of peach and smell like honeysuckles. Picpoul also is from France but has a sharp acidity to it and is very crisp. It’s perfect for patio days or for eating oysters or mussels.
Summer is a great time to change things up. It’s hard to find a restaurant that doesn’t add or change their menu seasonally these days. Having variety at one of your favorite places is a great thing. Some people are scared of change but I promise, a great restaurant will always try to serve you something that you are going to love.
Judd Smith is a local wine enthusiast and creator of www.BeardandBarrelBlog.com.