This summer’s hot drink trends include cool or even frozen fruit-exuberant cocktails, popsicles, radlers, sangrias, seltzers, slushies, smoothies, spritzers and teas.
These thirst-quenching beverages are made with a cornucopia of fruit such as mango, watermelon, strawberries and other fruits that may have bedecked one of Carmen Miranda’s hats.
Wine is generally made with one fruit that has the capability to remind you of other fruits, flowers and spices – vinifera grapes. However, there are fruit wines made of blackberries, strawberries or plums. And then there is sangria.
Sangria is a perfect picnic punch that originated in sunny Spain. There are thousands of ways to create a pitcher of sangria; the main ingredient is red wine and then you add slices of seasonal fruit and perhaps a dollop of brandy or a carbonated beverage. Sometimes a little sugar or agave is added, sometimes spices. It all depends on what you like.
This is an excellent use of wines in the value category or that bottle that was too blah to finish. Spark it up with lemons, limes and oranges and enough of something effervescent to give it the right amount of fizz. And then serve it up with smoked salmon dip, or hummus with carrots and celery sticks.
In 2014 under European Union law, the commercial use of “sangria” on the label has been restricted to a particular geographical area (Spain and Portugal) as is Vermouth (Italy) and Glühwein (German-speaking countries including Alsace, France).
Italian Lambrusco is another summertime quaff that is a low-alcohol, red wine. It is served well-chilled, which preserves the spritziness in this Frizzante. Frizzante is the Italian term for slightly sparkling. Mo scato d’Astis are Frizzante, too.
The history of Lambrusco is much more complicated than the wine. It used to be as popular as granny glasses in the 1970s but its reputation became tarnished as drier wines became the trend, and it was relegated to the bottom shelf.
The Lambrusco grape has more than 60 sub-varieties. Which variety of grape is in the bottle depends on which of the four DOC it’s made in. There are three in Emilia-Romagna and one in Lombardi.
Today, most Lambrusco are dry, somewhat fruity with lively effervescence. This makes it perfect with picnic fare of salami, capocollo, olives and romano cheese.
Zinfandel is a really good wine pairing with barbeque because of its juicy, fruit-forward profile. If you can find one that clocks in around 13% alcohol, that would be your best bet for those grilled cheeseburgers, ribs or chicken slathered in your favorite barbecue sauce. Typically, this grape can sport an alcohol content of around 15, sometimes even 16%, which would clash with a spicy-hot barbecue sauce. Stay low for pairing.
Zinfandel has an interesting history, too. Admiring French rosés, Sutter Home’s winemaker Bob Trinchero drew off some of the free-run juice from a batch of Amador Zinfandel. The free-run juice was fermented, barrel-aged and few cases were available in the tasting room.
But in 1975, a tank of the White Zinfandel became stuck during fermentation, resulting in a residual sugar reading of 2%. Sutter Home went with the flow and bottled the sweet, pale pink wine. With much fanfare, White Zinfandel became more widely available.
Other producers followed suit and the national market was flooded with sweet, pink wine. By the mid-1980s, a pink wine made with Zinfandel suddenly became America’s most popular wine. It became the rage for thousands of future oenophiles who thought White Zinfandel was an actual grape variety.
On the plus side, this wine’s popularity actually saved old vine Zinfandel vineyards in Amador, Lodi and Dry Creek AVAs that would have been otherwise been ripped out and planted to Cabernet or Chardonnay that could command higher prices.
In warm, sunny climates, pink wine is the perennial favorite. Rosé wine is not just a new trend of the 21st century. Before White Zinfandel, Provence and other Mediterranean regions made pink wines for centuries from the red grapes of the region. In fact, Provence’s production is almost 90% rosé.
It was the Greeks who first planted grapevines in Provence over 2,600 years ago. This makes Provence the oldest wine region in France. The area is planted to 13 varieties of vinifera grapes. The main grape varieties are Carignan, Cinsaut, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Tibouren.
At least 60% of the blend must be composed of Grenache, Cinsaut, Mourvèdre and Tibouren. There is also an AOC requirement that at least 20% of the rosé must be blended from wine produced by the saignee method.
Rosé can be made using several different techniques, and the results will tell you how long the wine was in contact with the skins. Darker color equals more time on the skins during a cold soak and pale pink very little time.
Saignee is a winemaking technique where the juice is bled off the press before it has much time to pick up the red color from the grape skins. Bleeding off the juice not only produces a lovely rosé but it also concentrates a red wine’s intensity.
The maceration method is when the red grapes are macerated in the juice for a period of time and then the entire batch of juice is fermented into a rosé. This technique produces darker-colored wines, as the longer the skins are in contact, the more color to the wine.
The third method produces a wide range of wines. The blending method is when a little bit of red wine is added to a tank of white wine to make rosé. This method is once in a while the result of an oops! A tank of white wine is blended with a bit of wine from a red tank.
In Champagne and with other Méthode Champenoise, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are blended for a wonderful, celebratory summer wine to have with your oysters on the half shell, potato chips or grilled shrimp. Cheers to you and have a wonderful summer.
Mary Earl has been educating Kitsap wine lovers for a couple of decades, is a longtime member of the West Sound Brew Club and can pair a beer or wine dinner in a flash. She volunteers for the Clear Creek Trail, is a member of the Central Kitsap Community Council and a longtime supporter of Silverdale.