What I Like to Drink When It Starts Getting Hot in the Lowcountry
Summertime and the livin’ is easy. Especially when you have good food and the fruit of the vine.
CHAMPAGNE, SPARKLING WINE and PICPOUL DU PINET are terrific weather choices for several reasons. First, they pair wonderfully with oysters. With it looking more and more likely that our South Carolina oysters will be available year-round, serving oysters in summer months would not be a problem. Whether raw or steamed, oysters paired with a refreshing light libation are a delicious and not too heavy treat on a sultry afternoon or evening in the Lowcountry.
Another option is to pair one of these light wines with fruit. ‘Strawberries & Champagne anyone?’ Lighter or bubbly wines have the acidity to pair well with cheese and are suitable for ‘sipping’ to accommodate an evening of nibbles as some of us switch from heavier meals of winter to a grazing mode as spring moves into summer.
The last benefit of lighter wines is that they are usually lower in alcohol content. While it may not sound like much of a difference between one wine which has a rating of 12.5% and another of 14.5%, it can be significant when you are sitting for an extended period of time with family and friends on the patio, porch or around the pool. Because of the lower alcohol content, they are very sensible options when little or no food is involved.
SAUVIGNON BLANC and GRUNER VELTNER are wines known for their higher acidity level which makes them even more refreshing. As heat and humidity rise, we begin to stock up on these reliable additions to our wine collection.They pair wonderfully with shrimp and soft cheeses. If you want to impress your friends with something simple, yet amazing, serve either wine with fresh local shrimp and goat cheese. Relax and enjoy the compliments.
Another nice characteristic is the herbaceous quality. What this means is that they go well with asparagus, artichokes, bell peppers, spinach, kale and other distinctively flavored vegetables that are often difficult to pair. If you are serving salad or vegetables with delicate types of fish, shrimp or chicken, these are also the wines to choose. How about some fresh asparagus, sautéed or grilled with shallots, topped with lemon zest or grated cheese with your favorite Sauvignon Blanc?
RED ZINFANDEL and SYRAH are just the summertime wines to serve when it is 95 degrees outside and so is the humidity. What do we do? Barbecue, of course. While the smothering weather of summer is a certainty, we don’t want to completely avoid our passion for red wines so these are my “go-to” wines when the urge hits for the reds. They are often described as jammy, spicy, peppery, smoky, earthy, black pepper and even ‘bacon.’ With zesty descriptions like that, is it surprising they go so well with BBQ?
Are you ready for the next simple pairing to impress your friends?
I love to serve “summertime” reds with that down-home favorite — pulled pork. When we have guests from out of state, they always ask about local specialties. Pulled pork is about as South Carolina as it gets. In addition, it is simple to prepare and serve, which all plays well for the lazy days of summer. This pairing is easy to take on a picnic, boat or served poolside.
Smoked foods and the unique flavoring of BBQ sauce make a good pairing with these red wines, as does anything grilled. Another dinner table favorite that is equally simple and pairs well with reds – lamb burgers on the grill. Delicious. Easy to execute.
From “bubbles to reds,” there are many wines that happily pair with our delicious Lowcountry cuisine.