Summer Wine Tips from New York City Sommeliers

The heat is on this summer and that means you need the right wine to cool you down. While full-bodied reds are delicious, they might not necessarily quench your thirst in the humidity quite like a crisp white.

We spoke to three of New York City’s finest wine professionals about what we should be drinking this summer and how to go about doing it properly. 

Morgan Harris, Head Sommelier at Aureole

“I personally drink mostly for refreshment,” says Morgan Harris. “And during the summer I double down on that philosophy especially in the sticky depths of July and August here in New York City.” Harris states the proper go-to options this summer consists of “tart, low-alcohol whites and sparklers,” including any whites from the Chablis or Loire regions in France or the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region in Italy.

Riesling from Germany or Austria in a "trocken" (fully dry) style are zippy, perfumed, and salty. Or, if you prefer something harmoniously sweet, Germany's "pradikat" styles are also something Harris recommends. "They're basically like God's margarita. Tangy, sour, but a little sweet." 

While reds are not necessarily something Harris leans toward during the hotter months, there are some exceptions. “If I were to have it, I’d follow the same rules as mentioned above with cool climate, high acid, low alcohol wines. Beaujolais, Loire Valley, and Alpine reds are great with a chill.”

Speaking of chill, Harris has some tips for those seeking out refreshingly cold glasses of summertime wines. “I think that if you like to drink your wine ice cold (or even with ice cubes) that's fine, but I probably would stick to the $15-and-under portion of the retail shelf.” Harris says while refreshing, ice dilutes the wine and tones down the flavor so an expensive bottle isn’t worth it. And if you’re not using ice cubes, keep your wines in the refrigerator, being mindful to serve whites and rosés “in the very low 40s” and reds around 65 degrees.

And the best place to sip your summer wines? Harris says a picnic in a park is a solid plan, but nothing beats a backyard barbecue, or better yet: “if you can get in a pool with your refreshing beverage” that's the ultimate option.

Alan Lam, Beverage Director of Eataly NYC Flatiron

As someone who manages the wine programs for all six restaurants found inside Eataly’s marketplace, Alan Lam knows a think or two about his vino. And for summer, he’s all about the pink stuff. 

"Nothing beats a cold, crisp, refreshing glass of rosé during those hot and humid days, however, if you want to take the party to the next level, I would definitely recommend going the sparkling rosé route.” 

Lam suggests Franciacorta (especially Flamingo Monte Rossa) from Lombardy for anyone interested in a light sparkling wine. “What's special about Franciacorta is that it's made ‘metodo classico,’ which means its second fermentation occurs in the bottle resulting in a richer, more refined sparkling wine. This is essentially the same way Champagne is made, and Franciacorta is just as elegant and delicious but easier on the wallet.” 

Besides being delicious and less expensive, Franciacorta can pair with just about any food you plan on eating this time of year, ranging from sushi to barbecue chicken. 

Robbi Jo Oliver, Senior Director Wine & Spirits at Mastro’s NYC

When it comes to summer drinking, Robbi Jo Oliver says there’s still nothing like a good rosé wine, but there’s something new to try. Meet the Frosé: a “frozen drink made with mostly rosé as the main ingredient and can be complemented with juices and or spirits.” So essentially this is a must when you need some serious cooling down this summer.

But if you're not going the frozen route, it's important to still keep your rosés chilled at the right temperature (48-53 degrees Fahrenheit). You not only want this wine refreshing but you want to ensure you never lose any of the aromatics. 

“You also want to know what kind of grape the rosé was made from,” says Oliver. “Rosé of Grenache, Mourvèdre, or Tibouren in blend (Provence) and Pinot Noir (domestic) are preferable choices as they are lighter style wines with great aromatics.”

And Oliver says while your basic rosé has always been known to be a pool wine served at a poolside barbecue, things have changed these days. “Rosés can be stronger now, based on the producer and assemblage or saignée method where some red wine is added for color. Most rosés are dry, not sweet, and will go well with light proteins, salads and especially seafood. If you think about the cuisine of the French Riviera you will find a perfect match.”