Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
Summertime, you know, it's all about the white wines. Well, and the rosé wines. And the sparkling wines. But what is there for people who get the heebie-jeebies when they're presented with a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc? Who think pink wine is for poltroons and pikers? Who feel that the sadly departed English wine merchant Harry Waugh's reputed comment - "the first duty of wine is to be red" - is gospel, and not just a nice idea? What about their wine, huh?
Well, because this is an equal opportunity column, I feel it's incumbent on me to provide some recommendations for great summer reds. What makes a red wine ideal for summer? Not too much alcohol, for one - skip the 16.5% Amarones, and put the port away until wintertime. A good summer red should also have a certain crispness of character, an acid-driven zip that perks up your taste buds rather than sending them to sleep. Finally, and ideally, it should taste good when slightly chilled. With all that in mind, here are some great options.
In this week’s do-not-miss world of beer news, it appears the Icelandic brewery Borg Brugghús has created a beer that gets its unique taste characteristics from, yes indeed, sheep dung.
The malted barley that goes into their Fenrir Nr. 26 is smoked over burning Icelandic sheep excrement for several hours, resulting in a brew that is, according to brewmaster Sturlaugur Jon Björnsson, “Þetta er í raun léttur IPA bjór með sítruslegt og ferskt bragð og lykt frá humlunum. Síðan kemur svolítið þyngri, taðreyktur fílingur í þetta en þetta gengur allt saman upp.”
For the non-Icelandic among us, that more or less translates as “It’s a lightweight IPA with fresh citrus and hop notes, then comes a bit heavier taste from the...” Well. You get the idea.
After a bleak situation four years ago, which saw Spain (lots of wine made there) vying with the Netherlands (um—gin, maybe?) for the World Cup, we are back once again to a final matchup between two great wine-producing countries: Germany vs. Argentina. I am certain that fútbol fans around the world are breathing a sigh of relief about this.
If nothing else, though, this particular game will allow you to drink great wine while supporting your side (great beer, too, when it comes to Germany). And it also puts the two great sides of wine against each other: white vs. red.
Germany, of course, is the homeland of Riesling, one of the world’s great white grapes, while Argentina has become a Malbec powerhouse, lifting a once–obscure French variety into supermarket ubiquity. This situation doesn’t mean you have to drink white if you’re a fan of Thomas Müller and co., nor does it mean you have to drink red if Lionel Messi and his teammates are who you support—but, you know, why not? Here are some suggestions:
What goes best with...? That’s the baseline wine-pairing question, and every wine expert worth his or her Riedel decanter has an answer for it. But realistically—and especially during the summer—there are plenty of times when a glass of wine will find its way to your hand with no food anywhere nearby. Cocktail parties, pre-dinner lounging around, beach house afternoons hanging out with friends, you name it. For these occasions what you want is the ideal aperitif wine: something light and crisp, not too high in alcohol and endlessly refreshing.
At the recent Food & Wine Classic in Aspen , which I was lucky enough to attend, I spent my time in the Grand Tasting tent hunting up some ideal, affordable, white wine candidates for this category. Here were my top picks:
Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.
Join 8,095 other followers