Alfresco Wine Sips from the Old Country

Beer and Wine, Drinks, How-To, In Season, Wine 101
on June 22, 2012

One of the greatest pleasures of traveling in Europe is dining in the open air—whether you’re sipping rosé and nibbling on tapas at a Spanish sidewalk café or enjoying a crisp white wine and panini on an Italian beach.

Bring a touch of that joie-de-vivre to your glass this summer, with wines from five different European countries. Each is perfectly suited to the season’s fresh food and easygoing mood.

Toad Hollow Risqué Sparkling Wine (Limoux, France; $17): If you like your bubblies on the sweet side, try this charming French bottle. Its persistent sparkle adds vibrancy to the rich pear and Golden-Delicious apple notes, and with barely 6% alcohol, it’s a great choice for day drinking.

Two Princes Riesling 2010 (Nahe, Germany; $14): This bottle is for people who “get” Riesling. You could call it sweet, but it’s sweet like an apricot is sweet; that is, it’s sunny, bright, tart, and tangy, too. Pour with cool seafood and chicken salads—and think of it as the ultimate picnic wine.

Marqués de Cáceres 2011 Rosé (Rioja, Spain; $9): Wild red berries and hints of spice frame this crisp and elegant dry rosé. Refined yet casually priced, it’s a perfect pink for sipping solo on the porch. Or pour it with grilled or barbecue fish, pork, and chicken.  

Santa Cristina Campogrande Orvieto 2010 (Orvieto, Italy; $12): Here’s the kind of ultra-bright, crisp, and vibrant wine we love to pour during patio season. Better yet, it has enough body to stand up to grilled marinated chicken, pesto-sparked dishes, and summer pasta tosses.

Churchill’s Dry White Port (Oporto, Portugal; $25/50-cl bottle): In Europe, white port is often served as an aperitif—a before-dinner drink meant to rouse the appetite. Served well-chilled in small portions, this rich and dry, nutty sip will do just that. When the temperatures really climb, serve it on the rocks with tonic.

—By Wini Moranville, Relish wine columnist.