Summer Wine Guide

summer wines pairing

With summer nearly here, now is the time to take advantage the season's offering of wine. Set aside your heavier wines and opt for a light, crisp and refreshing alternative.  Thanks to the professionals at Wine & Spirit Education Trust, you don't don't have to be a sommelier to find the perfect wine to pair with your delicious summer dishes.  

Pop open a bottle or two and spend time with this summer wine pairing guide.

Bubbly Wines

bubbly wines

Prosecco’s popularity is continuing its surge, and it’s easy to understand why, flavors of pears, blossom, and peach make it the perfect summer tipple. For the better examples look for the letters DOCG on the label rather than DOC, which should give you even more flavor. If you prefer more Champagne style wines, try Italy’s lesser known sparkling’s from Trento DOC that has toasty, yeasty characters and are richer in style.

Pairs Well With

While perfect on its own, Prosecco is also a great picnic partner where the lively fruit flavors and fresh acidity will work with a variety of ingredients so you can enjoy a range of nibbles from sandwiches to dips with the wine cleansing your palate in-between.

Rose Wine

Pink wine with its flavors of summer berries has always been a seasonal favorite, and there is a multitude of styles available. The Southern Rhone in France has always produced some brilliant rosés, dry in style with more flavor than other areas. Rich strawberry and red cherry fruits with a bit more body, they can be enjoyed by themselves, or a perfect with BBQs and salad so are suitable for all occasions. Look out for the regions of Tavel and Lirac on the label.

Pairs Well With

Full flavored rosés are extremely versatile, perfect for quaffing alone or with harder to pair dishes like those with some spice. Think sweet chili or Cajun chicken or steaks with peppercorn sauce. The strong berry flavors can stand up to the dish while the lack of tannins avoids any clash with the spice.

White Wine

Perfectly chilled whites are a summer essential with citrus and green fruit flavors to refresh the palate on those hot and hopefully sunny days. Pinot Grigio lovers should try Picpoul de Pinet, a region in Southern France that makes deliciously light, clean, citrus filled white wines that are effortlessly enjoyable.

These clean whites are great as an aperitif or to accompany simple fish dishes. Delicate flavors such as prawns or cod fillet with a lemon dressing will complement the zesty acidity of the Picpoul.

Alternatively, for a white wine with more flavor but that isn’t too heavy, try the Muscat grape. It produces aromatic wines that smell of summer flowers, fleshy green grapes, and peaches, a perfect summertime beverage. Traditionally produced in Alsace, France, but you can find it under the name Moscatel in Spain, or coming from as far as Chile. All with the same distinct floral character.

Pairs Well With

As this white packs more of a punch, it would work beautifully with a vibrant summer salad full of flavors such as rocket, squash, pomegranate and goat cheese.

Red Wine

Lighter red wines are perfect for summer drinking, where softer tannins and refreshing acidity are called for. Well-known examples are Beaujolais or Valpolicella that can be even served slightly chilled if desired to accentuate their fresh red fruit flavors. For something similar but less well known, seek out a Bierzo. This region in North West Spain produces red wines from the Mencia grape. They have lively acidity, red plum and herbal flavors with softer tannins and alcohols than other, hotter, regions of Spain and sometimes a touch of oak spice. Perfect for those balmy evenings.

Pairs Well With

Red is the perfect match for barbecue meats, or more strongly flavored dishes. Salt in the seasoning or marinade will soften the impact of the drying tannins in red wine, while the high acid will cut through the fat in the meat. It will also work with a cheese board to finish.

Alternative to a wine spritzer 

Ditch the mundane gin & tonic cocktail and do what they do in Oporto, Portugal and try a white port and tonic with ice and lime for something a little different but equally as enjoyable!


Serves 1

  • 3 oz. sweet white port wine
  • 1 oz. tonic water
  • 1/2 lime juice
  • 1 slice of lime

Pour port into a wine glass filled with ice; top off with tonic water and lime juice. Garnish with a slice of lime.

Compiled by Lydia Harrison Dip WSET, of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, the largest global provider of wines and spirits qualifications for beginners to experts. For more details about WSET, its qualifications and where to study, visit


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