Summer calls for cool, refreshing wines.  Rose´ wines have certainly made a comeback in the last few years.  For the most part, these are not your mother’s bland, semi-sweet blush wines, and that is certainly good news. At the same time, there are any number of refreshing white varietals that should not be overlooked as alternatives to popular chardonnays and pinot grigios (or pinot gris). Another plus is that many summer wines have less alcohol than their heavier cousins. Don’t be afraid to try varietals that are out of your comfort zone.

For many people, it is daunting to walk into one of our locally-owned wine stores, let alone someplace as huge as Andersons or Jungle Jim’s or the Bottle Barn. Don’t be shy! Tell the staff you are looking for a summer wine to enjoy on the patio to go with the lunch or dinner you are planning, or to share with a group of friends who are wine novices or wine aficionados. Let them know you prefer something on the crisp and dry side or one that has more sweetness.

Here are a few ideas for your summer wine-drinking pleasure:

Rose´ pairs with almost all food and is good for most occasions.  In addition to some great French rose´s, you might ask about those from Spain and California.  Just don’t over-chill these wines or you will miss out on their sometimes subtle flavors.  You can find some great rose´s in the $12-$20 range.

Sparkling wines are another variety that can be paired with almost all menus, and it is hard to beat these for casual get-togethers. While many people think Champagne, there are some wonderful and less expensive sparklers from Spain (cava), Italy (prosecco), and the United States.  Many fine options can be found in the $15 – $20 range.

Rieslings have gotten a bad name in some circles, but these can be wonderful summer wines.  They don’t have to be cloyingly sweet.  There are dry and fruity versions for most budgets, as well as the sweeter varieties. Ohio’s Ferrante Winery offers their Golden Bunches Riesling, a multiple award winner, for about $15. Other American-made Rieslings, especially those from Oregon and Washingston can be good options and great bargains.

We recommend getting to know the staff of your local wine store. The Twisted Vine, on West 5th Avenue here in Columbus, is our choice.  Owner Jonna Brandon and her staff are most helpful and knowledgeable. Other quality stores in the Central Ohio area include House Wines in Worthington,  Meza Wine Shop in Westerville, and Hausfrau Haven in German Village.