I promised to blog about wine this week, so I've committed myself. I'd like to be brief though.
Summer is a time for kicking back and having a beer after work on the weekend standing next to a grill loaded with meat. But wine can sometimes be a suitable alternative to beer, even during the summer. Most of the wine I would want to drink during the summer would be white or (maybe) rose. But there are good summer reds too. I wouldn't recommend a big red like cabernet for the summer. Instead go for something lighter, more acidic and less hit-you-over-the-head-with-a-cornucopia that you find in some reds that showcase deep, ripe fruit.
The two that I drank this weekend are 2005 Sepp Moser Zweigelt (pictured above) and 2004 Michele Chiarlo Le Orme Barbera d'Asti. Both of these are made from grapes which aren't quite household names in the US.
The Barbera grape is very popular in Italy and most of the wines you'll find are from Asti, Alba and Monferrato, in the north. Barbera were just reviewed two weeks ago by the NY Times and the Michele Chiarlo just made their top 10 (out of 25 or so.) The bottle may run you $13.
The Zweigelt is a grape most grown in Austria. Austria isn't particularly known for its wines, but most times when you see an Austrian, it's white. The red Zweigelt is sort of hard to come by, but if you see one, buy it. You might be pleasantly surprised. Last week the Times reviewed Zweigelts and Bluafrankisch (another Aryan red). Unfortunately, I don't think the Times tried Sepp Moser's bottle, because I think it would have done well. It's also a cheap buy at under $10.
I liked the Zweigelt must more than the Barbera. But both were good and I would buy them again. Thankfully my local wine store always stocks Sepp Moser wines (they produce some of my favorite Gruner Vetliners) so my supply will never run out. I drank each chilled a bit, which is definitely the way to go when drinking wine when 80 degrees out.