Ten Top Summer Wines

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The rituals of summer begin are upon us: Barbecues beckon, flip-flops are once again de rigueur weekend wear.

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The summer sun warms the mind to other pleasures too. Not least among them is wine, especially those better served cold, like rosés, whites, and the occasional light red.

"It doesn’t matter how good a Chateaux Margot is, wine is all about the experience, and when it’s 88 or 90 degrees out, you don’t want a room temperature wine, you want something will quench your thirst," says wine blogger Tom Wark of Wark Communications.

And when it comes to the perfect in cooling summer wine, Wark and others say, the answer is simple: rosé, rosé, rosé.

"Rosé is the quintessential summer wine," says Wark. "It looks like summer and it tastes like summer. That’s what you want to haul out on the deck when it starts getting warm."

But you needn’t be dogmatic; many whites fit the bill as perfect summer wines if rosés aren’t your thing. (You can even chill your favorite light red.) The important thing is to find a crisp, dry and refreshing wine that’s not too complicated. The point, after all, is to unwind and enjoy those carefree summer days.

To that end MainStreet has picked out 10 perfect, can’t miss summer wines.

1. Johann Donabaum Bergterrassen Riesling Federspiel 2006; $17.
An Austrian Riesling that, is bone dry. The Federspiel in the name refers to the earlier harvest time, which produces a lighter-bodied wine. Fruit and mineral elements are balanced beautifully.

2. Saintsbury Vincent Vin Gris 2007, California; $15.

Vin Gris is the name used in Burgundy for a delicate, refreshing pink wine made from Pinot Noir. This is a Californian version, and a particularly good one at that. Brilliant, refreshing and young; perfect for summer.

3. Skin Flint Dry Rosé, California, NV; $9.
Yes, it’s a screw top. But don’t let that fool you, Skin Flint may be on the low end of our picks, but it’s the perfect cheap rosé to stock up on for the beach or a barbecue. Unpretentious, dry and surprisingly refreshing.

4. King Estate Pinot Gris 2007, Oregon; $17.
Pinot Gris—or Pinot Grigio in Italian—is a classic white wine grape. In the U.S., some of the better Pinot Gris are made in Oregon. This is a perfect example.

5. Domaine de Pellehaut 2006, Gascogne; $11.

Don’t like sweet white wines? You’re not alone. Many of those who get turned off by whites complain about wines too sweet for their palate. This is the answer. Dry as they get but with abundant flavor.

6. Lillet Blanc; $16

This one not like the others. An aperitif wine from Bordeaux famously preferred by James Bond and often used in cocktails, Lillet was one of the first tonic wines, popular around the turn of the last century. Lillet has toned down the quinine since 1986 and the result is a refreshing start to a summer meal. Serve over ice with a twist of lemon or orange.

7. Feiler-Artinger Rose Blaufrankisch, 2006; $13.
An Austrian rosé made from a red grape called Blaufrankisch (also grown in Washington state, where they call it Lemberger). Dry, with a terrific mix of fruit and spice.

8. Robert Sinskey Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, Napa, 2007; $30.
A lovely, versatile rosé with a great balance between bright acidity and ripe fruit. Arguably the best domestic rosé.

9. Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rosé, 2007; $32.
“Does everything a rosé should: it refreshes, it excites, with a little chill, it’s summer incarnate,” says Alder Yarrow, the founder and editor of Vinography.com.

10. Johann Donabaum Spitzer Point Gruner Veltliner Smaragd, 2006; $34.
“This is the king of the summertime whites,” says Emily Weissman of Winemonger.com. This Gruner Veltliner was just featured by Wine Spectator as one of the top scoring wines of the year. Dry, with nice fruit, great minerality, and a hint of white pepper finish.

To read more articles like this one don’t miss MainStreet’s Wine Center.

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