Red Wines for Summer

It might be hard to believe, but summer is almost here


Summer is a time for frivolity and simple pleasures. Think footwear-optional backyard parties rife with Solo cups, white wine and rosé. But pleae, don't leave your red wine in the cellar. There are a bevy of summer-friendly reds that pair perfectly with the hearty fare cooked on a barby. This fact has been bandied about for many summers past, but we always need at least a few gentle reminders - and a new slate of red wines to try.

Schiava aka Vernatsch aka Trollinger

Schiava, or Vernatsch as it is known in the Alto Adige where the bulk of production comes from, is an ideal summer red. It drinks almost like a rosé and takes a slight chill eminently well. Pair Schiava with salumi and cheese on your next picnic or with simply prepared grilled pork for a fabulously refreshing summer red experience.

Two to try:

Girlan Gschleier $23

Nalles Magre $15



If you’re looking for something as offbeat as Schiava but a bit richer with that same crunchy fruit profile, all in a decidedly darker vein, swap out Schiava’s strawberries for Blaufränkisch’s more peppery wild berry character. The two grapes aren’t really that similar except for their mountain terroir. You’ll find one (Schiava) living mostly south of the border in Italy, and the other primarily in Austria.

Another favorite with pork, this is a great wine when we start to dip into spicy sausages of both the pork and poultry persuasions.

Two to try:

Weninger Hochäcker Blaufränkisch $21

Paul Achs Blaufränkisch $20


Piedmont is famous for famous wine. Its less famous wine? Well they’re not very famous! Pelaverga is one of the hidden gems; light bodied, peppery, bright and fresh with a wildly perfumed combination of pink peppercorn, red berry fruit and a little raspy minerality.

Pelaverga’s home is the sleepy village of Verduno, which has mostly escaped much attention from wine lovers in the USA, even though it is home to several wonderful producers. Pelaverga is a great wine to pair with game birds. Duck grilled rare, served rare is a lovely match here, especially when it’s served with a little ratatouille and some pasta with arugula pesto.

Two to try:

Castello di Verduno Pelaverga $20

G. B. Burlotto Pelaverga $20



Summer is not all about light fare. Sometimes you just need a thick, juicy steak. Finding a wine that pairs well with that grilled steak without being just too big for the weather can be a challenge. This is where Chilean Carmenere comes into the picture.

Carmenere, a lost grape of Bordeaux that was rediscovered thriving in Chile, combines the softness of Merlot with the freshness and herbaceousness of Cabernet Franc. In fact, Carmenere can be way more herbal than even Cabernet Franc, but like with Chimichurri sauce, that herbal quality and bright, juicy acidity works like a charm when complementing grilled red meats. At your next BBQ go easy on the sauce and instead pop some Carmenere.

Two to try:

Carmen Carmenere $18

Lapostolle Carmenere $12

Petite Sirah

 Even in summer you might need something kind of big but still juicy and not too overwhelming. Petite Sirah is just the ticket. Plump with rich fruit, Petite Sirah tends to be a little less rich than say, Zinfandel, with alcohol that is a touch lower and acidity that is a touch higher. The resultant wine was born to wash smoky BBQ from your greasy little upturned lips. It’s just that good.

It is a versatile wine that can take a bit of a chill while still being ready to battle your boldest BBQ adventures.

Two to try:

Pedroncelli Petite Sirah $12

Clayhouse Petite Sirah $18

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