Great Wine for the Great Outdoors
BY MORIAH SIMMONS (of Chelsea Wine Vault) | It’s hot outside — but the only place hotter is your third-floor walkup. So we’re all heading outdoors, determined to enjoy the sunshine by making it an event with food and wine. Whether you’re decamping to the Hamptons with a private chef or packing sandwiches for Coney Island, you need the right wine to set the tone for your summer feast. These are some of the best wines for the major food events of the season.
GRILLING Not all wines can stand up to the tangy, smoky flavors of grilled food doused in barbeque sauce — but Zinfandel and Syrah blends do it with aplomb. Chatom Vineyards Zinfandel Calaveras County 2008 ($21.99) is bold and full-bodied enough for a well-marbled steak or brisket, and J.L. Chave Sélection Chave Mon Coeur Côtes du Rhône 2011 ($21.99) is great with pulled pork and dry-rub chicken wings. If you prefer white wine with dinner, Kings Ridge Pinot Gris Willamette Valley 2012 ($13.99) is a good pairing for everything from zucchini to turkey, and all but the reddest meats. The summer wine rule of thumb is that rosé goes with everything — and Copain Saisons des Vins Tous Ensemble Pinot Noir Rosé Anderson Valley 2012 (Organic, $24.99) and Diamarine Cuvée Spéciale Rosé Coteaux Varois en Provence 2012 ($9.99) are consistently great every year.
PICNIC When you can’t get out of the city, get your fresh air fix with a park picnic. Chilled reds like Terres Dorées Beaujolais L’Ancien Vieilles Vignes 2011 (Sustainable, $18.99) are great with cold cuts and pasta salad, and cold fried chicken gets even better with a crisp Chardonnay like A to Z Chardonnay Oregon 2011 (Organic, $14.99). Serve your wine in reusable, shatterproof GoVino tumblers. Since you’re not technically allowed to drink alcohol in NYC parks, this is a great time to try out wines in alternative packages like Tetra Paks, CalNaturale Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (Organic 500mL, $7.99) or bag-in-box — Gil Family Estates Shania Monastrell 2011 (3L, $19.99). They’re great with food and so affordable you can save your money to splurge on Greenmarket heirloom tomatoes instead. If you’ve got wine in a bottle, you can transfer it to a clever flask that folds flat when empty, the Tote + Able Dots Water & Beverage Canvas Tote ($22.99), or put the bottle in a Freaker Penguin Wine Sweater ($9.99) for some incognito insulation.
BEACH By far, the best wine pairing for sun and sand is a cool, crisp rosé, like Vie Vité Rosé Côtes de Provence 2012 ($18.99). It’s great with fresh seafood and charcuterie, and it makes you feel like you’re in the South of France — even when you’re at the East River. But with all that sand and sun, sipping wine on the beach is as much about strategy as it is about substance. First, you’ll want to keep reds slightly chilled, and whites and rosés just above freezing. You can keep wine cold with a Corkcicle, an Oprah-approved chiller that you freeze, then pop into an open bottle of wine. If it’s windy, seek single-serve packaging to keep your wine sand-free. Try Coppola Sofia Blanc de Blancs Mini Cans Four-Pack NV ($19.99), sparkling wine in individual cans that come with straws. Another great beach wine is called Stack, and $14.99 gets you a stack of four individual sealed glasses of either Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Grigio for easy beach bag packing.
Now that you know what you’re doing all summer, you’re ready to get outside and stay cool in the sun. At least until your apartment is bearable again — which should coincide neatly with the end of outdoor drinking season.
Moriah Simmons is the Web Editor at Chelsea Wine Vault, and she’ll bring rosé to any backyard grilling party, any time. Find her at Unfiltered: The Chelsea Wine Vault Blog — and find the Wine Vault inside Chelsea Market (75 Ninth Ave.). Call them at 212-462-4244 or visit chelseawinevault.com.