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July 06, 2017

15 of the very best summer wines for any occasion, according to Philly drink experts

From pricey by-the-glass bubbly to $13 state store favorites, an aspiring wino's cheat sheet

Summer Wine
chloe grigri wine Bonfire Media/for PhillyVoice

Chloe Grigri of Good King Tavern.

Even if you've ardently observed National Rosé Day and are a regular at Center City Sips, it may be time to admit that you know nothing about wine. Or, at least, not much on how to pick the best bottle from season to season. As many of our Philly drink experts – who include restaurant owners, beverage managers and professional sommeliers – point out, summer wine doesn't have to mean light and cheap (though you can get a tasty buzz without shelling out too much cash). Here we spill the deets about 15 summer wines from around the world, each perfectly suitable for anything from a backyard barbecue to a pricey seafood dinner. Read up and you'll be sniffing your wine glass and using vino jargon in no time!

Cashman & Associates/for PhillyVoice

Jordan Fuller of Barclay Prime.

Jordan Fuller

Beverage director of Barclay Prime

Favorite summer wine: Chablis (France)
Price: $22+
Pair with: Seafood, pasta, light snacks

“The Chablis region is located in the northern part of Burgundy and made from 100 percent chardonnay. It’s a cool climate region and, as a result, the wine is crisp and high in acidity. The soil in Chablis is a special limestone called Kimmeridgean with fossilized seashells that impart a distinct minerality to the wine; almost like fresh oyster, it’s briny and salty.”

Maxime Bonvoisin

Food & beverage director of Sofitel Philadelphia

Favorite summer wine: North by Northwest Horse Heaven Hills Riesling (Columbia Valley, Washington)
Price: $16+
Pair with: Salads, salmon, desserts

“It has notes of tropical fruit such as pineapple or passion fruit with apricot and peach and a hint of spice clove and floral lavender. Produced in the Columbia Valley of Washington state, it’s great as an aperitif with natural, but not overwhelming, sweetness coming from riesling grapes.”

William Eccleston

Sommelier at Panorama

Favorite summer wine: Fontezoppa Cuvée Rosé (Italy)
Price: $15 a glass, $75 a bottle
Pair with: Seafood, soft cheeses, fruit

“Combining the dual allure of its super-small production cache – just 600 cases produced – and its super-rare vernaccia nera grapes, this sparkling Italian rosé advances a heightened level of effervescent sophistication to the rosé resurgence of the summer of ‘17. In the glass, it comes with more layering of flavors than we have a right to expect from such a delicately coral-salmon-hued bubbly!”

Michael McCaulley

Beverage director of Tria

Favorite summer wine: Falco Vinho Verde, Quinta da Raza (Portugal)
Price: $10
Pair with: Shellfish

“Summer wines should be fun, and this one reminds me of childhood summers: like a green apple Jolly Rancher, but refined, with notes of lime and white pepper. It’s fun and light, but with plenty of bold flavor.”

Cashman & Associates/for PhillyVoice

Greg Root of Root Restaurant & Wine Bar.

Greg Root

Co-owner of Root Restaurant & Wine Bar

Favorite summer wine: Castelfeder Kerner (Italy)
Price: $18-$23
Pair with: Most dishes, or by itself

“My favorite wine currently is Kerner from Castelfeder, grown in the Alto Adige region of Northern Italy. A clone of the riesling grape, kerner is beautifully balanced with vibrant acidity and can be paired with many dishes or enjoyed on its own. It is crisp, yet also complex and versatile. This wine has bright but refined flavors and fresh fruity aromas with hints of mango and lime. ”

Greg Dodge

Partner at Zavino and Tredici Enoteca

Favorite summer wine: Chateau d’Esclans Rosé, Whispering Angel (France)
Price: $15+
Pair with: Fish, chicken, veggies, rice

“It’s silky and easy-drinking, with notes of raspberry, peach and nectarine. It’s a favorite out at Enoteca Tredici in Bryn Mawr and my go-to on a hot summer evening.”

Ellen Yin

Founder and co-owner of High Street Hospitality Group

Favorite summer wine: Channing Daughters Tocai Friulano Pet Nat (Long Island, New York)
Price: $28
Pair with: Fritto misto, fish, chips, salad, cheese

“Channing Daughters owner James Christopher Tracy was a chef prior to becoming a winemaker, and he is doing very cool stuff. He experiments with different vineyards, unusual varietals and different fermentation styles, but everything is grown reasonably and sustainably, then hand-picked. This particular wine is light, with great acidity, and it goes great with food.”

Harsh A. Dayalani

Restaurant manager and sommelier of Veda

Favorite summer wine: Los Bermejos Listán Rosado (Spain)
Price: $22
Pair with: Tandoori

“Summer wines are so often synonymous with simple and cheap. Summer wine seems limited to one of two types: a light, simple white or a light, simple rosé. A summer wine can be so much more than that – it should be just as interesting and complex served at any other time of the year. The Canary Islands have gotten so much attention in recent years that it’s easy to see this remote Spanish outpost as a fad; then you re-taste the wines that remind you of why people started paying attention in the first place.”

Gloss PR/for PhillyVoice

Patrick Cappiello of Walnut Street Cafe.

Patrick Cappiello

Beverage director of Walnut Street Cafe

Favorite summer wine: KEEP Syrah Rosé (Napa Valley, California)
Price: $22
Pair with: Seafood

“Summertime, light, dry crushable. They are a producer that works with all organic vineyard practices, which is important to me.”

Tim Kweeder

General manager of Kensington Quarters

Favorite summer wines: a trio from Weingut Knauss (Germany)
Price: $12-$18
Pair with: Pizza, barbecue... just about everything

“I’d direct attention to a trio of wines from the same winery, Weingut Knauss, in Swabia, Germany. Andy Knauss has a light red and rosé made from the trollinger grape, as well as a riesling. All three of these wines are his entry-level wines, are well-made, cover a lot of ground with food, sold in liter bottles and definitely will not break the bank. If you can’t escape the city this summer, make sure to bring the red to Pizzeria Beddia, the rosé to a backyard party and the riesling to a rad urban picnic, and you're sure to make new friends.”

Terence Lewis

Beverage director of Barbuzzo, Little Nonna’s, Bud & Marilyn’s, and others

Favorite summer wine: Selbach-Oster’s Brut Sekt (Germany)
Price: $25
Pair with: Pork, chicken, salmon, tuna, spicy food, veggies, dessert

“During the summer is when I drink a lot of sparkling wines – this summer I have been enjoying Selbach-Oster’s Brut Sekt. A Sekt is a style of German sparkling wine and this one is made from riesling in the Mosel Valley. Refreshing bubbles and very delicious fruit.”

Bonfire Media/for PhillyVoice

Zach Morris of Green Engine Coffee.

Zach Morris

Owner of Green Engine Coffee

Favorite summer wine: Albet i Noya Curiosa Rosat (Spain)
Price: $12.99
Pair with: Grilled meat and veggies

Morris will soon be opening a second location of the Haverford-based Green Engine Coffee in the Headhouse District, which will serve wine.

“To pair a season like summer with a wine, my first thought is the setting. Summer is the time to share, outside, probably around the grill, family-style. It’s certainly not new information that people are gravitating to rosé for summer and I agree with the masses. These wines are abundant in Catalunya and increasingly easy to find stateside. In PA state stores, I’ve found quite a few this year, and one in particular is super easy to get your hands on, plus it’s a bargain.”

Chloe Grigri

General manager and wine manager of The Good King Tavern

Favorite summer wine: Zestos Garnacha (Spain)
Price: $8+
Pair with: Pizza, paninis, burgers, fajitas, quesadillas and other casual fare

“This rosé is inspired by Provence but deeper in color and zippier on the palate. A total thirst-quencher. It’s like drinking a perfectly ripe pink grapefruit in the best possible way.”

Michael Garguilo

Beverage director of the Continental Atlantic City and Buddakan Atlantic City

Favorite summer wine: DUCKHORN Sauvignon Blanc (Napa Valley, California)
Price: $30
Pair with: Grilled barbecue

“It has aromas of lychee, pineapple and nectarine along with notes of grapefruit and lime. Its citrus and tropical flavors are great for a summer dinner out. It goes great with grilled foods in the backyard and is an all-around great wine for any summer occasion.

Patrick Sterr

General manager of Garces Restaurants Atlantic City

Favorite summer wine: Bodega Garzón Albariño (Uruguay)
Price: $13.99
Pair with: Fish, grilled shellfish, fruit

“This wine is fresh and crisp with mineral and salinity notes and ripe aromas of citrus and peaches. It’s fantastic to enjoy while sitting on the patio or with summer’s best seafood catch.”