Easy, Breezy, Summer Wine

Summer calls for summer food, and summer food calls for summer wines - wines that are light, chilled, and not too serious ... leaving you happy and refreshed. And, surprise, this includes red wines as well. Chilled red wine? Of course! It's summer, and it's too hot for stuffy rules. While your usual summer choice might be a jug of something simple, like an inexpensive white, you'll be rewarded if you give your summer wines at least half as much thought as your summer food. With just a little bit of effort, you can drink wines that are interesting and that will make all of your brilliant dishes taste even better. Start with light and easy-to-prepare summer foods; salads, grilled vegetables, and seafood. The wine you choose should have that same elegant nonchalance. A wine that has a crisp, citrusy, somewhat earthy, austere taste - making it ideal with many warm-weather dishes. As your food gets more complex, your wine can as well. Try a wine that has a very ripe, just-picked green apple undertone. Imagine that juicy flavour with curried chicken salad or a roasted chicken with cranberry relish. Sauvignon Blanc is a summer winner! It's rich and fruity, a fabulous mouthful of wine, and fun just sipped alone. While it doesn't need food, Sauvignon Blanc can give a lift to chicken and seafood salads, and crudités with a simple dip. It's heavenly with a Waldorf salad. You can definitely try a Riesling as well, because there are few better wines with pork or lamb on the spit. What about a Chenin Blanc? Chill well, open by the pool, and simply sip. Another white, Chardonnay, is very pleasant, easy to drink and can definitely add some complexity and spirit to your picnic foods, like cold roast chicken, grilled shrimp, smoked meats, and potato salad. Dry Rosé is a great pairing with tuna steaks, grilled vegetables (think mushrooms), and braai chicken. But be sure to chill it slightly. Red ... hmmmm. YES, it's okay to chill some red wines because it's summer, after all. The flavours of a mild red like Merlot or Pinotage are far better and more concentrated when the wine is slightly chilled. Place it in ice water for five minutes, or in the refrigerator for about half an hour. A chilled, young Merlot with ribs hot off the grill or a rotisserie chicken bought at the store is very easy and VERY yum! The good news is that these aren't the only reds that can be chilled. If you've never tried a light, young, fresh Pinot Noir with poached salmon, hot or cold, you owe it to yourself to do so. When dinner is over, treat yourself to a dessert wine like Cape Ruby. It's absolutely perfect with fresh berries, chilled melon, berry compotes, poached pears, fruit pies and tarts, cookies, and custards. Finally, our most important piece of advice: At all times, keep a bottle of bubbly in the refrigerator. A chilled bottle of bubbly is indispensable in summer because you never know when the perfect sunset will appear.

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