Summer of Suave

Illustration by Laura Baker

Illustration by Laura Baker

This article was originally published in April 27 issue of Fourth Estate.

Connor Smith, staff writer

There are wines for every season. No one wants a big hearty, earthy red when its 90 degrees out. Normally during the blazing summer heat and humidity people tend to drink lighter reds like Pinot Noir, or crisp refreshing whites like Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Riesling and the occasional Chardonnay. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with these wines, but at the risk of getting bored drinking the same wine at concerts, baseball games, picnics and all of the wonderful activities that help us abdicate responsibility in the summer. Here are five summer wines you’ve probably never heard of and should try:

1.Torrontes:  This white grape is the signature white of Argentina. There are several conflicting theories on what grape it evolved from, but the truly wild anecdote you can use at dinner parties is that it grows ten thousand feet above sea level.  It is one of the few grapes that grows in the Andes. When it comes down to almighty taste, Torrontes is light, fresh and refuses to offend your palate. It boasts citrus notes, particularly mandarin orange and Meyer lemon. Pair it with lighter seafood, shellfish and curries.

2.Pinotage: So you’re a red drinker, and you think Cab is too heavy and Pinot is going to be too light. Pinotage is an up and coming grape from South Africa. It is a genetic hybrid of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut. They tend to have similar fruit characteristics as Pinot Noir, with notes of fresh raspberry and cherry.  Pinotage delivers a one-two punch in the earth, smoke and peppery finish. This is the perfect departure for the summer red wine drinker.

3. Gamay: It tends to get lost in the crowd due to the popularity of its Burgundian brother and sister, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Gamay grape produces light and refreshing reds, with notes of strawberry and fresh cherries. You may have had Beaujolais before, the most popular region/name that Gamay bears.

4. Vhino Verde: This means green wine, or young wine in its native Portuguese. These semi-sparkling wines are normally a blend of the Trajadura, Arinto and Loureiro grapes. It hails from the Minho region in the far north. The finished product is simply remarkable, the notes of key lime, pineapple and blood orange are only made more effervescent by its mild carbonation.

Connor Smith is a senior Communications major, sommelier and wine educator in the Northern Virginia area. His mission in life is to find world’s best sandwich and perfect beer to pair with it.