79°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

“Warm Weather Wine”

Massachusetts Finally Begins to Address Its Unconstitutional Blue Laws
Massachusetts Finally Begins to Address Its Unconstitutional Blue Laws

Walking around the city this week, I got the feeling that Bostonians are happiest when lounging out in the sun. That is unfortunate for wine merchants, because when the clocks spring forward, the people tend to switch from wine to mojitos and iced tea. Don’t fret; there is still hope for those of you searching out a vinous answer to the dog days of summer. Just think about the foods we eat in New England from May to September-lobsterbakes, local produce salads, grilled fish and barbecued meats; the wines that pair well with these dishes just happen to make superb summer sippers. Below is a selection of a few of my favorite wines for summer.

Sauvignon Blanc. Whether it’s a minerally Sancerre from France or a grassy and guava-laden version from New Zealand, Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect foil for first course foods. Oysters on the half shell, grilled shrimp, and asparagus salads are that much better when paired with a crisp citric white wine. Best of all, few Sauvignons retail for more than $15. Look for Tohu Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough and Lucien Crochet Sancerre from the Loire Valley. Both are readily available and offer a lot of bang for the buck. Already love Sauvignon Blanc-try Verdejo from Rueda in Spain!

Albarino. I’d be doing a disservice if I didn’t tell you about Galicia’s great white wine. Related to Riesling, the Albarino grape is fruit forward and lower in acidity than Sauvignon Blanc, for those of you looking for something less zesty. This region in Spain is known for having abundant seafood, and not surprisingly, seafood is what matches this wine best-lobster, clams, octopus, squid, cod and bass. Even more good news is that the 2004 and just-released 2005 vintages are spectacular, the best Albarinos I’ve ever tasted; and, they’re cheap. The 2005 Burgans Albarino tastes of tropical fruit and citrus and costs a paltry $10 in stores. This may be the wine value of the year, since the wine will knock your socks off. In fact, you should be wearing sandals when you purchase it because one sip will make you want to head right to the beach. You’ve already discovered Albarino on your own-check out Austrian Gruner Veltliner!

What about heavier foods and red meats like grilled steak? Try a zinfandel. Red, not pink, zinfandel is fruity, yet dry, full bodied without being rich or heavy. The grape originated in Eastern Europe, but somehow it ended up in California, the only place in the world it’s grown today. Because of the hot weather out west, and some shoddy winemaking, zinfandel has gained a reputation for being a “high-octane” or alcoholic wine. Don’t be surprised if you see zinfandels with alcohol levels well above 15%. Still, some of those wines and their tamer brethren are perfect for the flame-grilled smoky taste of meat hot off the grill. Zinfandels boast flavors of cherry, plum, and jam, tobacco, smoke, and pepper, and so they match incredibly well to barbecued meats sauced, or not. For an inexpensive, yet delicious bottle, look for Cline’s basic California Zinfandel. It’s a wine that offers big flavor but without a big price tag. It shouldn’t cost more than $8 or $9. You know and love Zinfandel-ask your local wine shop for a Grenache from Australia!

Warm weather doesn’t have to mean cocktails, beer or tea. Go out and discover something cool and tasty to drink after a long day in the sun. You may end up with a new favorite wine.