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People look forward to a lot of things in the summer – the nice weather, the long weekends, and most certainly the drinks! With the unofficial start of cottage season comes the call to switch up your go-to boozy beverages. That’s right – it’s time to give your wines a summer makeover, and Erin Henderson – Sommelier & founder of the wine tasting & events company, The Wine Sisters – stopped by to show us how.

In winter, we gravitate to heartier, richer dishes that need wines that offer the same comfort, like luscious whites and bold reds. In summer, we’re shedding the heavy sauces, the stews, the roasts, and welcoming the salads, the seafoods, the easy going BBQs. We need wines for those flavours and textures, like crisp whites and juicy reds.

Check out Henderson’s recommendations on the wines you absolutely need for your long weekend getaway.

Rosé

There are four different ways you can make rosé … 3 are very good methods, one is less so.

  1. The least acceptable way to make rosé is to blend a finished red and a finished white together to make a pink (unless we’re in Champagne, then it’s perfectly fine, but that’s a story for anther day).
  2. Make a rosé the same way you would a red wine -you pick your grapes, you crush your grapes, and for red wines, you would let the clear juice sit with the skins to macerate – sort of like steeping a tea. The longer the clear juice sits with the skins the darker the colour of the wine … a few weeks we have red, a few hours or maybe a day or two and we have a pink wine.
  3. In some cases, just simply squeezing the grapes and getting that dark skin contact is enough to lightly colour the clear juice.
  4. The last way is called saignée, or ‘to bleed’, which is where a winemaker has a big tank of what is destined to become red wine, and she siphons off (or “bleeds” off) a certain portion, thereby giving her a beautiful rosé – as well as the red that remains in the tank.

You can make rosé out of any grape you want: In the pink Motherland of Provence typicaly grapes are some sort of blend of Syrah, Cinsault and Mouvedre, but elsewhere in the world anything from Pinot Noir to Cabernet Sauvignon is all fair game.

This beautiful (and EASY!) Rosé sangria recipe only has three ingredients, plus some pretty summer time fruits like watermelon, lime, and strawberry. Made with Three Thieves Rosé – a delicately pink beverage with gorgeous wild strawberry, watermelon and clementine orange flavours – this is summer in a glass!

Check out these recommendations:

Kim Crawford Rosé: A popular dry and fruity rosé that has lots of food flexibility.
Meiomi Rosé: Approachable, easy drinking rosé that’s perfect for parties.
Ruffino Sparkling Rosé

White wines

Summer is pretty much synonymous with white wine. As food lightens up, we’re looking for thirst quenchers – something to sip on while we’re floating in the pool, or dockside. White wines were pretty much made for that!

Check out these recommendations:

Sauvignon blanc: Lip smacking acidity, fruity and fresh.
Robert Mondavi Chardonnay: A rich white that goes well with BBQ chicken, or seafood.
Pinot Grigio: Refreshing, easy drinking, food friendly.

Wine spritzers

Spritzers are a great option for refreshing summer drinks – trust us, we’ve tested this. By cutting the wine with a bit of soda and maybe some fruit juice, you’re cutting the alcohol, which is perfect for day drinking – you can enjoy an afternoon on the patio and not in bed by 7 PM.

Add either a dash of orange or lemon bitters along with club soda to a fruity wine to make your own – or, if you’re feeling adventurous, instead of plain soda, use a citrus infused bubbling water!

Summer reds

Reds are definitely not off the table until fall. Pick a lighter red to go perfectly with your rich, barbecued dinner!

It’s a good idea to give your reds a bit of cooling time. Let’s say you’ve just come home from shopping, or you don’t have a cellar or wine fridge. Pop it in the fridge for 10 minutes for a fuller bodied red, and maybe 15 or 20 for a lighter juicier red. But if it’s a wine emergency and you don’t have 15 minutes to spare, we have a solution! Put an ice cube in your wine glass, swirl it for 10 seconds and remove the ice. That wine to ice ratio will cool it down to a proper temperate without having enough time to melt the ice a dilute the wine.

Try and avoid is over-chilling your reds: ice cold red will only enhance the bitter tannins and astringency, and completely mask the beautiful fruits.

Check out these recommendations:

Rodney Strong Pinot Noir: A great option with everything from barbecued fish to leaner steaks.
Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon: A brilliant option for saucy ribs or grilled sirloin.
Castillo de Monseran: A Grenache based red blend that makes for easy drinking – and it’s under $10.

Champagne and luxury

Sun’s out, bubbles out – that’s the saying right? Summer is a time for celebration! Sparkling brings an immediate sense of luxury and festivity. While true champagnes are very expensive, check out the recommendations below for very reasonable facsimiles from elsewhere in the world for a fraction of the cost.

Check out these recommendations!

Jackson-Triggs Entourage Brut
Henkell Rosé Picolo