“Summertime. And the livin’ is easy.” From the 1935 opera, “Porgy and Bess.”
Red wines are mostly known for their flavor. The hardiness of a good, solid red wine just oozes from an unopened bottle with aromas and beauty that transfers from there, to a decanter, to a glass and finally to the palate. The color of the wine even says that the essence will stay with you for a while. At this time of year though, some people will shy away from the reds and move to a lighter looking Cabernet or Pinot. But there are many red wines that go very well with summertime. These wines are a little on the lighter side but still deliver the experience one expects. Now, be advised, I do not go for light wines, much as I don’t go for light beer. I want flavor and body. So, here are a few good red wines, not so heavy as you may expect, but still good drinking wine.
Part of the Farnese family of fine wines, this wine comes from the Abruzzo Region of Italy. Being a Sangiovese, it is lighter than a Chianti but still delivers excellent flavor. Fantini employs six top winemakers to work in perfect harmony with the grapes and ensure they are turned into great wines. With a history dating back to the 16th century, Princess Margaret of Austria and her husband, Prince Farnese produced wines that were served to all the crowned heads of Europe and at official state dinners. Then as now, only the finest grapes are used, locally sourced from mountainside vineyards grown under strict supervision with a bow to quality and tradition. This is a medium bodied wine with firm tannins and good balance. Hints of wood come through in aroma and taste with added essences of strawberry and black cherry. All this makes for excellent pairing with grilled meats, ribs, steaks and the like but also for the pool party crowd. The label is kind of dark, almost mysterious. But there is nothing mysterious about the flavor and the quality.
BAROSSA VALLEY ESTATES SHIRAZ
Nestled away on the Southeastern side of the continent is the Barossa Valley. Small by comparison to most of the more famous wine growing regions, the Barossa has been producing wine, red only, since 1985 which makes it a relative newcomer. However, this valley is not, as its name may imply in Italy. Nor is it in Europe at all. It is located in Australia which is now producing some excellent vintages. The climate here is warm with lower humidity but higher sunshine hours. This combined with the rich soil is perfect for growing wine grapes and produces a smaller berry and a smaller yield which results in a higher concentration of juice. Australia is a relative newcomer to winemaking but they have done an excellent job and do produce some nice wines. The climate here is warm and dry which enables the fruit to ripen with a vibrancy and depth not really expected. Again, this wine pairs well with grilled meats like steaks and chops cooked over hot coals so that the richness of the meat is washed down with a wine that challenges a steak to be more daring.
TAVERNELLO VINO ROSSO
Labels are such a funny thing and are the ultimate sales pitch. They can be ornate or plain, bright or dark, even busy or calming. But they all have one thing in common, that being the label is the ultimate shelf talker. This label is no different as it states, adorned with black lettering on a bright golden background, it is the #1 selling wine in Italy! (Why would they lie, after all?) This is a true “vino di tavola,” or table wine, light tasting with a good aroma and excellent flavor that really rivals much more expensive wines. Dry, with a slightly fruity taste, it has no room for sweetness or acidity. Rather, it is pretty well balanced and therefore very welcoming. Noticeably lighter in color than most reds, it is pretty deceiving because of the punch it can deliver. This wine, as with the others, is good with charcoal broiled meats but is probably the best of these three for patio or poolside. Quite pretty in the glass too because natural sunlight will shine through it rather than be absorbed by it, so it makes for some very interesting reflections. The flavor is definitely there and trust me, no one will believe what you paid for it!
So, be bold. Be daring! Share a red wine this summer. It may be a totally new and unique experience, but it will also be very rewarding and possibly, yes, quite possibly, give you the reputation of being someone who bucks the trend and dares to be different. Someone who doesn’t only march to the beat of a different drum, but beats the drum.