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Best Summer Wines and Food Pairings

Best Summer Wines and Food Pairings

Summer is officially here, and that means longer days, gatherings with friends and family, and of course, lots of good food and even better wine! No matter where you may celebrate your summer holiday, it’s always the perfect time to explore new grape varieties and to learn about the regions that make them special.

To help usher in this time of fun in the sun and celebration, we spoke with millennial sommelier and private wine consultant, Thatcher Baker-Briggs, who shared the perfect pairings for cookouts or just casual hangouts on your balcony or in the backyard.

With over 16 years of experience in hospitality, Baker-Briggs launched his e-commerce platform, Thatcher’s Wine, in 2019 and brings his wealth of wine expertise to clients all over the world.

Best summer wines: Chilled sparkling and reds

Coravin: With so many summer holidays right around the corner, what are some great wines that consumers should have on the table and in the cooler at the cookout?

Baker-Briggs: Champagne is certainly a wine to pay attention to this summer. It's incredibly versatile and can work with fish, meat, pizza, BBQ foods, or simply be enjoyed by itself. It’s not a wine just for celebrations, it is one for any occasion. Italy is also another region to pay attention to – specifically Piedmont. The younger generation of winemakers are making beautiful, pure and bright examples of wines that are ideal for the summer. Langhe Nebbiolo and Barbera are great summer wines to pair with grilled meats, grilled veggies, and charcuterie boards.

Other Sparkling wine recommendations:

  • 2016 Champagne Christophe Baron Le Dessus du Bois Marie 1.5L

  • Champagne Stephane Coquillette Carte d'Or 1er Cru NV

Thatcher BB4

Coravin: When the summer hits, people tend to shy away from red wines because they are perceived to be too heavy for the heat of the day. What are the best red wines for summertime?

Baker-Briggs: I often feel this is true. One key factor that will certainly help red wines is to make sure the wine stays cool. It doesn’t need to be cold but, when it’s 90 degrees outside, you certainly don’t want to be drinking warm red wine. You can also look for examples of reds that are tough yet lighter in style like Pinot Noir or Sangiovese.

Other Summer red wine recommendations:

  • 2017 Ferdinando Principiano Barolo di Serralunga

  • 2016 Collosorbo Brunello di Montalcino

Best summer wine and food pairings

Coravin: What is your favorite summertime food and wine pairing?

Baker-Briggs: BBQ and Northern Rhone Syrah, hands down. I’m not sure there is anything better than Pierre Gonon and a perfectly grilled steak – cooked over charcoal, of course. Cooking over charcoal is more work but the flavor is worth it. If you're looking for a more reasonable price point, the wines from Julien Cecillon are just that. It has notes of black pepper and smoke, and it's herbaceous with beautiful fruit!

Other BBQ wine recommendations:

  • 2019 Jacques Lemenicier Cornas

  • 2019 Buisson-Charles Aligote Sous le Chemin

Coravin: If you were hosting family and friends, what would be a few wines you'd serve from your collection?

Baker-Briggs: It depends on how much I like these friends… (laughs). With so many choices, it’s hard to narrow things down. But if you are coming over, and we are doing some daytime drinking, odds are that I am opening a red Burgundy from Didier Fornerol, which is certainly one of the best value red Burgundies made today. Along with that, a bottle of Champagne is always great to open. Perhaps something playful like Champagne Chavost or something aged from Ulysse-Collin or Pierre Peters.

Other Wine recommendations:

  • Champagne Saint-Chamant Blanc de Blancs NV

  • 2018 Monthelie Douhairet Porcheret Monthelie 1er Cru Les Duresses

Summer wines everyone will love

Coravin: As a sommelier, what have you found to be the most popular wine choices of the summertime among consumers? Do you think that there are some wines that are underrated when it comes to summertime enjoyment?

Baker-Briggs: Rosé and summer are certainly made for each other. And no, rosé is not sweet. The rosé from Triennes for me is such a classic example! The wines are pure, crisp and exactly what you want for summer. A few others to pay attention to: Reniere is outstanding, Valentini Cerasuolo is a personal favorite, but I also say – go rosé bubbles. Selosse is not so easy to find anymore sadly, but check out the wines from Benoit Marguet. His Shaman Rosé is very exciting!

Other Summer wine recommendations :

  • B. Stuyvesant Champagne Prestige Rosé NV

  • 2020 Theopolis Vineyards Estate Grown Rosé of Petite Sirah

  • NV Domaine Rolet Pere et Fils Cremant du Jura Rosé