What makes a great summer wine?

El Carajo chill red wine

Everyone always writes about their favorite summer wines but they never explain what makes them Summer-y. For me, a summer wine is one I can enjoy 90+ degree weather, which in Miami is about 80% of the year! The most common “summer wines” are crisp whites, rosés, light reds, and sparkling wines. But that doesn’t preclude some other greats.

Crisp Whites

The reason people are drawn to crisp whites in the summer is simple, they are refreshing. Often served cold with good acidity, these wines make even the most parched mouth watery. Common grape varietals for this category are Unoaked Chardonnays, Sauvignon Blanc and Albarino.El Carajo Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc.jpg

Good: Torre La Moreira Albarino – A crisp aromatic and easy drinking wine

Better: Droin Chablis – A focused lemon driven Chardonnay. (89pts Vinous)

Best: Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc – A complex, round, and fruity Sauv Blanc (92pts Cellar Tracker)



Rosés have become extremely popular in Miami and can be seen in every gathering from Key Biscayne to Sunny Isles Beach. When you think beach or boat day you think: Rosé! The reason being rosés and crisp whites have similar styles: medium to high acidity and are served cold. Another reason for their popularity is they often have notes only found in red wines such as dark cherry and raspberry but, can still be enjoyed chilled.El Carajo Fournier Sancerre Rose.jpg

Good: 83 Rue de St. Tropez – Easy drinking Rosé that never goes wrong

Better: AIX – A more complex and heavy Rosé with more dark fruit (89pts Wine Enthusiast)

Best: Fournier Sancerre Rosé – Focused acidity with concentrated cherry notes


Light Reds

Light reds, like Garnacha and Pinot Noir, are popular recommendations for summer reds. These wines have little tannin and lively acidity, which doesn’t leave your mouth dry, and oftenEl Carajo Penalba Lopez Garnacha.jpg have very good fruit notes to soften their texture. To best enjoy these reds while outside give them a chill. Remember, room temperature is 65 degrees not 85!

Good: Principe de Viana Garnacha – Light, red fruit driven wine (Silver Dallas Wine Competition)

Better: Pali Pinot Noir – Dark berries, smokey, soft acidity with a luscious body (93pts Pinot Report)

Best: Penalba Lopez Garnacha – Rich red fruit, hints of earth, a truly rocking Garnacha (92pts Robert Parker)


Sparkling wines

Prosecco, Cremant, Champagne, Cava and California Sparkling are the biggest names in sparkling, however they tend to have very different flavor profiles. What makes these great summer wines is the fact all of them are served chilled and none have mouth drying tannin. For simple fruity wines you should opt for Prosecco or California Sparkling. For the more complex and higher acid wines go with a Cava, Cremant, or Champagne.El Carajo Lallier Gerand Cru Champagne.jpg

Good: La Marca Prosecco – Fun green apple driven wine (90pts Wine Spectator)

Better: Roederer Estate Brut California – White fruits, easy drinking with a touch of complexity (92pts Wine Enthusiast)

Best: Lallier Grand Cru Champagne – Classic champagne with explosive fruit and crisp body (92pts Wine Enthusiast)


Enjoying any wine during the summer

Even if it’s hot outside you can still enjoy your favorite Cabernets, Malbecs, and Riberas. Bring out an ice bucket, and put your red next to your rosé to give it a good chill. And don’t forget to have good tapas to help your palate balance the weight of those heavy reds.