With some sun peeking through the clouds, summer days are mere weeks away.  This change of seasons means restaurant patrons will soon be looking for the perfect summer wine to complement their meal.

Jody Ness is the owner of Wildfire Steakhouse & Wine Bar in Toronto, Canada, and the host of CNBC World’s television program, Wine Portfolio.  As a regular globe-trotter, wine sipper and taster, Ness is the ideal person to provide his recommendations for this summer’s hottest wines:

Sparkling: Crémant de Bourgogne Reserve "Paul Delane"

“This sparkler from Burgundy is an excellent replacement for high-priced champagnes,” Ness says. It’s a dry, traditionally-made bubbly and comes from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gamay and Aligoté grapes. Excellent as an aperitif, with sushi, smoked salmon and fresh summer salads, it’s also lovely enough to enjoy on its own.

White: Terrazas de los Andes Torrontés Reserve

Ness chooses this white because “it’s a great summer sipper.” It’s a refreshing un-oaked wine from Argentina with an orange blossom nose, tropical fruit palate and a lingering zestiness which makes it a great complement to freshly shucked oysters, tangy salads, grilled fish and olive oil-based pastas.

Rosé:Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé

“This is the ultimate in roséwines currently on the market,” Ness says. “It’s available in very limited quantities, but worth searching for.” Thirst-quenching and very satisfying on a hot summer day, it’s loaded with peach and red currant notes. Try it with grilled fish, especially salmon, and even better, add mango, strawberry or peach salsas to the grilled fish.

Light Red: Cristom Vineyards "Mt. Jefferson Cuvée" Pinot Noir

This great-tasting and versatile Pinot from Oregon suggests flavors of cedar box,

sour cherries and raspberries. Soft and velvety, with a sharp edge and

racy acidity, “this is an ultimate pairing wine,” Ness suggests, since it goes beautifully with anything from seafood to pastas to meats. However, Ness cautions that this wine does not work as well with rich and heavy sauces (like BBQ) since they overpower the wine’s delicate flavors. A perfect pairing? Ness suggests cedar-planked wild Pacific salmon or a seared duck breast with sour cherry compote.

Full Red: Seghesio Family Vineyards Sonoma Zinfandel

Nothing says “BBQ” more than Zinfandel. And, in Ness’s opinion, one of the best California Zin producers is Seghesio. This family’s Sonoma Zinfandel is loaded with dried fruit, chocolate and cocoa, finishing with a warm wood spice. Ness suggests that the wine be paired with meats or fish topped with heavy sauces because nothing will overpower it.  Try leg of lamb marinated in rosemary and garlic, or venison loin with blackcurrant sauce. At his own restaurant, Ness pairs this Zin with artfully made barbecued back ribs.

Sweet:Michele Chiarlo Moscato D'Asti

This wine belongs in the “frizzante” category which means it is semi-sparkling. It has a very low level of alcohol, (4 to 7 percent), so it’s an excellent Sunday brunch wine. “It is quiet, sweet, but very refreshing and loaded with orange blossoms,”  Ness explains. Serve this sparkler with fresh fruit desserts or pannacotta. It’s also great as an aperitif.

By Lisa Tabachnick Hotta

Beverage, Industry News