Summertime is upon us, and with it comes a calendar full of summer weddings, BBQs, beach vacations and outdoor dinner parties. The best accompaniment to all these social, warm weather events is an amazing bottle of white wine, natch (not that you can’t enjoy a few glasses with a good book for company). Choosing the perfect bottle can be a bit overwhelming to those of us who may be a bit vino-illiterate (we know you’ve spent 20 minutes at TJ’s just staring at all the options), so we enlisted sommelier and owner at Barrel Thief Wine Shop and Cafe, Booth Hardy, to help us wade through the myriad white wine choices. Here’s his invaluable guidance on the five whites you’ll be drinking all summer long.
1. Patio sipping: When you don’t have to worry about food pairings, Booth is a fan of choosing an “interesting wine that will offer a conversation piece when you’re catching up with friends. I can’t get enough of mineral-driven crisp whites from the Jacquere grape.” He also suggests looking for French wines from Abymes and Apremont.
2. Backyard BBQ: “Most of my time at BBQs is spent trying not to trip on a child or fall into the fire, so I look for uncomplicated, food-friendly whites that I don’t need to think about,” Booth says. He prefers crisp acidity and alcohol below 13 percent — anything with the Arneis grape from Italy’s Piedmont region is “delicately floral and delicious, without taking a lot of brain power to appreciate.”
3. Light home-cooked dinner: When you’re looking for a wine to pair with a simple home dinner, Booth’s biggest tip is to “pair body with body.” For a light plate of flaky fish and bright salad with a Dijon-based vinaigrette, go with a French Sauvignon Blanc that packs a punch of bright citrus flavors that will match the tartness of the dressing.
4. Outdoor wedding: If you’re currently planning your summer wedding’s menu and are looking for a crowd pleaser that’s “easy to order fresh off the dance floor,” Booth suggests an unoaked Chardonnay. “Find one that comes from a cool climate like the Loire Valley in France, where the grape’s freshness and acidity thrive,” he says.
5. Dinner party: To impress your wine-loving friends at your next dinner party without breaking the bank, Booth recommends Muscadet, a wine from the mouth of the Loire River on France’s west coast. He says the Melon de Bourgogne grape “can express its terroir better than most white grapes when grown by talented hands,” so “buy six bottles of Muscadet, preferably grown in granite soils, and break them out in a year with the freshest oysters you can find.”
With all that said, if you decide to splurge for a more expensive bottle in any of the above instances, Booth has some seriously good advice on how to go about it. “Look for a passionate retailer who places as much importance on the everyday bottles as the high-end stuff. They should have a strong opinion based on what you’ve loved in the past and a little info about the discerning palates of your friends,” he says. Happy sipping!
Do you have a favorite white wine recommendation for summer? Tweet us @BritandCo and give us the scoop!