Summer doesn’t begin in the Northern Hemisphere until June 21, but it’s already getting pretty warm around here. It’s time to start thinking about wine and summertime!
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What’s to think about, you may ask. It gets hot, we crank up the air conditioning, open a bottle with dinner, enjoy.
But summer brings a few challenges worth keeping in mind, both for protecting our wine and for enjoying our wine. It all begins with a simple reality: Excessive heat can be damaging for wine in the bottle. (So can excessive cold, although that’s not much of a problem right now unless you chill a bottle in the freezer and forget you left it in there.)
Wine in the bottle starts to deteriorate if its temperature rises past 80ºF and starts to suffer permanent damage if it reaches the 90ºs or above. That can easily happen if you stop by the wine store, then leave your purchases in the car parked with the windows up while you make another stop on the way home. Make it a long stop and the wine may expand and push the cork all the way out, creating a mess that you really don’t want to have to deal with.
Even on a relatively mild 70º day, the temperature inside a parked car can approach 100º, enough to damage wine. At 80 and above, the temperature inside a car parked in direct sunlight can quickly climb to 130º or more.
What happens to an overheated bottle of wine? Wine damaged by heat is called “cooked,” and conventional wisdom holds that heat imparts stewed, caramelized, one-dimensional flavors. I once experimented by leaving a bottle of wine in my car parked in the sun on a 92º day. The interior temperature rose to 120º and the cork pushed part way out of the bottle. Surprisingly, the wine was still drinkable, with an oddly enhanced fruit character. But it definitely wasn’t what the wine maker intended, and it likely would have shown more conventional cooked-wine character after a short stay on the wine rack. Don’t do it, that’s my advice.
If you buy wine online for shipment to your home, you might want to keep the season in mind too. Some of the most cautious merchants decline to ship wine during particularly hot periods, and quite a few of my wine-collector friends hold off placing orders for the summer.
If you do decide to order wine for shipment between, say, late May and September, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the national weather forecast and avoid placing your order if a heat wave is imminent. Another pro tip: Order on Monday or Tuesday to ensure delivery during the week. You don’t want your shipment stuck in a warehouse without air conditioning over a weekend!
Meanwhile, nearly universal air conditioning has largely banished the old traditions of reserving sturdy red wines and rich dessert wines for winter while enjoying lighter, fresher wines for summertime. We’re free to enjoy what we like all year ’round.
Still, when it’s sizzling outdoors, even if it’s comfortably cool inside, there’s something that seems to beat the heat about enjoying a crisp white or a lightly chilled, dry rosé. And that goes double if you’re dining alfresco or sipping a glass on the patio or deck. This week’s featured wine, Fleurs de Prairie Languedoc Rosé , made a tasty treat on a recent summery day.
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Today’s Tasting Report
Fleurs de Prairie 2020 Languedoc Rosé ($12.99)
Fleurs de Prairie Languedoc Rosé is an attractive clear salmon color in the glass. A typical Languedoc blend of 43% Grenache Noir, 40% Syrah, 9% Carignan, 5% Cinsault, and 3% Mourvèdre, it lifts up pleasant red-berry aromas that lead into a fresh, acidic flavor that mirrors the nose: Strawberries and raspberries and a zippy whiff of lemon. Brisk and dry with a long finish, its good balance of fruit and acidity make it an excellent companion for a range of food. 13% alcohol. U.S. importer: Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, Stanford, Conn. (May 26, 2022)
FOOD MATCH: The winery suggests pairing this light-bodied wine with lighter dishes, summer fruits and vegetables, fresh fish or roast chicken with fresh herbs. Wine-Searcher.com suggests that it will pair well with tomato-based dishes. We enjoyed it with spaghetti cacio e pepe. The rich cheese and butter flavors along with piquant black pepper made the pasta dish a delicious match.
WHEN TO DRINK: It’s fresh and delicious. While it’s not going to die of old age within the next couple of years, it is a wine to drink up, not to cellar.
It’s an easy choice even at Wine-Searcher.com’s reported $18 average U.S. retail. I found it for a bargain $13 because the merchant was expecting the 2021 vintage soon. At that price, I may go back for more.
Here’s a detailed fact sheet on the importer’s website.
FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Compare prices and locate vendors for Fleurs de Prairie Languedoc Rosé on Wine-Searcher.com.
Follow this Wine-Searcher link to find listings for dozens of other crisp and dry rosé wines, largely from Languedoc and Provence.
Wine Focus: Rosé coming in June!
Chardonnay remains our Wine Focus theme for the few days remaining this month. Then we’ll move on to rosé to celebrate summer. You’re welcome to join the conversation about Chardonnay or check in on our wine forum on June 1 or thereafter to share your tasting notes and talk about your favorite rosés!
Wine-Searcher.com is the place to go online if you want to find where to buy a particular wine that interests you. What’s more, Wine-Searcher.com offers so much more. It’s well worth a visit just to discover its many features, including its popular list of the world’s Top 10 Best Value Wines.
Good wines we’ve tried under $10.99!
Want tips to still more good, inexpensive wines? Here are Wine-Searcher links to vendors and prices for a bunch more wines for $10.99 or less that I’ve told you about in recent years. In some cases the prices may have risen over the $10.99 mark since I reviewed them, but they should still be excellent bargains. Please tell us about your favorites!
- Laroque Cité de Carcassonne
- Famille Perrin 2019 “La Vielle Ferme” Rouge ($7.99)
- Querceto 2019 Chianti ($10.99)
- Porto Kopke Fine Ruby and Tawny Port ($9.99/375ml)
- La Fiera 2016 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ($8.99)
- La Vieille Ferme Vin de France Rosé ($8.99)
- La Fiera Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ($8.99)
- Laroque Cité de Carcassonne Cabernet Franc ($9.99)
- Domaine de Pouy 2016 Côtes de Gascogne ($7.99)
- Alamos Mendoza Malbec ($9.99)
- Caposaldo Chianti ($8.99)
- d’Arenberg McLaren Vale “The Stump Jump” ($9.99)
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