By John Garland
Summer wine drinking is a whole different ballgame. In winter, you can endlessly ponder the esters of a rich Bordeaux while sitting in front of the fireplace, because, what else are you going to do?
But when the humidity rages, even the most ardent vino snobs have to dial it back and select a bottle on the basis of utility rather than reflection. You just can’t (or more likely, have no interest in) appreciating delicate notes of quince and stone fruit when you’re on the boat, sweltering under an oppressive sun, and you can’t even jump into the lake because it’s full of untreated sewage.
You’ll need a wine that’s easy-drinking, with ripe fruit and a thirst-quenching quality to it. Perhaps most importantly, it needs to be cheap, around or under $10 if possible. Because, let’s face it, Aunt Linda’s annual backyard luau is not a one-bottle affair.
My recommendation: white wine from Gascony. Down in Southwestern France, they make a flood of cheap whites under the banner of Côtes de Gascogne. They’re mostly composed of two grapes: Colombard, a genetic offspring of Chenin Blanc, and Ugni Blanc, a high-acid, high-yielding grape that’s mostly distilled into cognac.
Any bottle shop worth its salt will have a couple of these blends on hand, and probably one in the cooler, priced somewhere in the $7-13 range. A favorite I’ve noticed in a number of shops is Mont Gravet (~$11). It’s 100% Colombard (props on ditching the inferior Ugni Blanc) with juicy pineapple and citrus fruit on the sip. A very dry finish, ripe and luscious, it’s a thoroughly uncomplicated wine but not one-note. A crowd-pleasing wine for a lengthy summer lounge – just remember to re-apply sunscreen between bottles.