If you’re like me, an overfed, long-winded wine writer, you get this question a lot: “What’s your favorite wine?”
I have a pat, well-reasoned argument that eloquently touches on the pitfalls of having a favorite anything, but especially wine. To which most people reply: “So, what’s your favorite wine?”
If I did have a favorite — and I don’t — it would change with the season. This being summer, I’d probably say a 2006 Bouchard Père et Fils Chevalier-Montrachet, a beguiling little chardonnay from Burgundy, is my favorite.
“Are you kidding me?” say my red-wine-loving friends. “If it ain’t red, it ain’t worth drinking!”
And there you have it. Some folks may not have a specific favorite wine, but battle lines are clearly marked when it comes to wine color. And that’s OK. We should not judge … at least, not in a public forum.
But, if it has to be red, then which one? Well, part of my inclination to drink white in the summer is that it is a little lighter and a little brighter than any red. With all the heat and humidity, I tend crave something a little more refreshing, plus you generally eat lighter, too, right?
“OK,” say my suspicious red-wine-loving friends. “Sounds like a lead up to a recommendation for a white or one of those dreadful pink wines, but keep talking, wine boy.”
No. Not pink or white. The wine in my mind is a full member of the Better Red Than Dead Club. With the summer solstice just barely in our rear view mirror, the wine I’m thinking of is from Valpolicella.
Valpolicella is an ancient wine-making region in the hills above Verona in northeastern Italy. The chilly climate there keeps the alcohol levels down and the acidity levels up. This makes for a remarkably refreshing wine despite its deep, dark color.
I find that a 10- to 15-minute dunk in an ice bath does wonders for Valpolicella. You could even toss a cube or two in the glass. (It’s OK to put ice in your wine. For crying out loud, it’s summer, after all.) And, in case you’re calling into question its red wine street cred, the three grapes — corvina, rondinella and molinara — used to produce Valpolicella are also the same grapes used for Amarone. If you’re not familiar with Amarone, you could consider it the godfather of red wines. They don’t get much redder, tannic or alcoholic than Amarone.
Come to think of it, it’s not all ceviche and chicken salad in the summer, is it? It’s grillin’ time for hamburgers, garlic-studded legs of lamb or maybe even a New York strip once in a while. All of a sudden, I’m not thinking white wine at all, even if it’s the $700-a-bottle beauty mentioned above.
Maybe the reds-only crowd has a point. Make my favorite summertime wine a red one like Valpolicella this year.
- 2013 Tommasi, Rafaèl, Valpolicella, Italy
- Two Thumbs Way Up
- Bright, almost pungent aromas of red cherries, raspberries and a subtle note of cocoa powder. Flavors follow the aromas with dried strawberries and tart acidity reminiscent of a green apple and a long milk chocolate-like finish.
Note: Wines are rated on a scale ranging up from Thumbs Down, One Thumb Mostly Up, One Thumb Up, Two Thumbs Up, Two Thumbs Way Up and Golden Thumb Award. Prices are suggested retail prices as provided by the winery, one of its agents, a local distributor or retailer.