Cheers to warm weather drinking with riesling, vinho verde, and other summery whites—plus, an easy red to enjoy during your next BBQ.

By Sarah Tracey
May 08, 2020
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Although summertime has become synonymous with rosé season, there are plenty of other warm-weather wines to keep you cool and refreshed as temperatures rise. Here are five of our favorite wine varieties to enjoy throughout the summer months.

people at dinner table with food, wine bottles, and glasses
Credit: Getty / Klaus Vedfelt

Riesling

It's become the darling of sommeliers all over the world for a reason: Riesling is pure, fresh, and incredibly versatile. It's a perfect wine for summertime because of its aromas and flavors of cool citrus, tangy peach, and apricot with a crisp mineral finish. And although riesling has a reputation for being a sweet wine, it's actually made in many styles ranging from bone-dry to lusciously ripe, and even sparkling. One helpful tip to find your preferred style of riesling is a tool created by the International Riesling Foundation called the Riesling Taste Profile. It's a graphic found on the back label of over 12 million bottles of riesling every year; an arrow on a scale indicates if the wine is dry, medium-dry, medium-sweet, or sweet. It's a simple way of letting a consumer know exactly what to expect in terms of flavor and sweetness.

Riesling is most well-known as a German wine, and there are examples from Germany that are exceptional. Try Allendorf Save Water Drink Riesling Dry 2018 ($13.99, vivino.com). Another classic region for riesling is Alsace in France, where rieslings are generally drier than in Germany. Trimbach Riesling 2017 ($19.99, wine.com) and Domaine Remy Gresser Kritt Riesling 2015 ($21.99, winelibrary.com) are two wonderful examples. The world-wide appeal of riesling means American wineries are also making fantastic bottles, most notably in New York's Finger Lakes region. For a stateside variety, try Dr. Konstantin Frank Dry Riesling 2018 ($14.99, astorwines.com) or Eroica Riesling 2017 ($19.99, wine.com), which hails from Washington state's Columbia Valley.

Sweeter styles of riesling pair beautifully with spicy dishes, like Thai Chicken and Noodle Salad. For the drier styles, soft cheeses are a lovely pairing, try a luscious combination of Stone Fruits with Honey-Drizzled Soft Cheeses and Toasted Almonds.

Vinho Verde

Vinho verde (veen-yo vaird) is a wine region located in the far north of Portugal. Loosely translated as "green wine," it gets its name from the incredibly lush, green landscape of the region. Although some red, rosé, and sparkling wines are produced there, the majority of the wines are whites that range from fresh and fruity to elegant and mineral. And many are naturally low in alcohol. Most vinho verde wines are blends of indigenous Portuguese grapes like alvarinho, loureiro, trajadura, azal, and arinto. You may have tried a vinho verde that was slightly fizzy—that's because often, the wines are bottled with a little carbon dioxide to give an effervescent spritz. However, depending on the producer's style, they may or may not have that fizzy flair.

Wine lovers on a budget take note: While it's rare to find high-quality wines for under $10, vinho verde offers a lot of bang for your buck. We recommend Faisao Vinho Verde 2018 ($8.99, madwine.com), Muralhas De Moncao Vinho Verde 2018 ($8.49, marketviewliquor.com), and Ponte da Barca Vinho Verde Branco 2017 ($9.49, kahnsfinewines.com).

Vinho verde is exceptionally great as a pairing with seafood, so try a bottle with Stuffed Clams with Linguica and Corn.

Grüner Veltliner

A refreshing white wine that hails from Austria, grüner veltliner (grooner-er velt-leen-er)—or just "grüner" for short—is an intriguing wine with lots of savory characteristics: white pepper, dill, green herbs, and citrus are common tasting notes. Because grüner veltliner's crisp, high-acid, and juicy profile, most of the wines are aged in stainless steel tanks and not oak barrels, thus preserving the natural zestiness of the wines. This also ensures that there are no added layers of toasty flavor or creamy texture (a byproduct of oak aging) in the finished wines. Great, affordable options include Pratsch Organic Gruner Veltliner 2018 ($13.99, wine.com), Grüner Veltliner Schloss Gobelsburg ($15.96, astorwines.com), and Loimer Lois Gruner Veltliner ($13.99, marketviewliquor.com). Try a few different bottles and keep your cooler stocked with your favorite all summer long.

Most wine experts have a really hard time pairing wine with pungent or bitter vegetables like leeks, asparagus, and artichokes; however, grüner is especially good for this! Pair a glass with our Shaved Artichoke Salad with Parsley and Parmesan  or Oven-Roasted Asparagus and Leeks.

Grillo

Grillo (GREE-lo) is a white wine from the Italian island of Sicily, where it was initially used as the base of the fortified wine Marsala. However, with sweet and fortified wines waning in popularity, some inventive winemakers vinified the grape into a dry style table wine. They discovered grillo was a rare gem that could handle the intense Sicilian heat, but still maintain its bright and zesty edge. (Many white grapes get so ripe in the hot Mediterranean climate that they make a flabby wine without a lot of personality). Grillo is aromatic with floral aromas, soft melon and lemon flavors, and a crisp mineral backbone. Try Donnafugata SurSur Grillo ($23.99, wine.com), Stemmari Grillo ($13.97, winechateau.com), and Ca' Lustra di Zanovello Grillo ($15, astorwines.com).

Often in Sicily, grillo is served with the fried rice balls called arancini.

Malbec

For many wine lovers, white wines and rosés are the summertime staples, but what should you drink if you're a die-hard red lover? Malbec might just be the perfect summer red: medium-bodied and easy-going with lots of bright and fresh blueberry and red plum notes. Because it's naturally low in tannins, you can even drink it chilled, but it has enough body to stand up to grilled meats and barbecue sauces.

Malbec is famous as the most important red grape of Argentina, but it's actually originally from Bordeaux. When South America was being colonized, wealthy Europeans started buying land—in order to be able to produce their own local wines, they brought vine cuttings from Bordeaux (at the time, the most coveted wine in the world), and replanted them in Argentina. Of the major Bordeaux grape varieties, malbec thrived and has now become synonymous with Argentina. Small amounts of malbec are still grown in France, but the malbec on your local wine store shelf will likely be from the New World.

Great Argentinean malbecs to try include Zuccardi Q Malbec ($18.99, wine.com), Zuccardi Concreto Malbec ($37.99, wine.com), and Septima Malbec ($10.99, totalwine.com). Try the bottle you like best with grilled meats such as this Grilled Steak and Summer Vegetable Salad.

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