Summer generally isn't a good time for the luxe wine drinker. Fine wines tend to have a gravity and heft about them that make them poor choices for summer drinking—think of the weightiness of Barolos and Bordeaux wines, the power of California cabernets, the sweetness of Sauternes and Tokaji. That doesn't mean that summer wine options are restricted to jug wine Proseccos, Astis, Sauvignon blancs, and Lambruscos though: there are wines that are light enough on their feet to be drunk in warm weather, yet complex enough to deserve appreciative drinking. Here is a list of just a few wine types that are very appropriate for conspicuous summertime consumption indeed.
Germany's signature grape makes wine that has the high acidity and the flowery, perfumed aromas that make for a light, refreshing summer drink. An understanding of basic German wine terms is needed to navigate the different varieties of good stuff though, since wines made can range from dry (trocken) to semi-sweet to sweet, to the very sweet dessert wines in the beerenauslese and trockenbeerenauslese categories,with sparkling options to boot. Dry sparkling wines, served chilled, would obviously be the best summer option, though the best choice for connoisseurs would be the dry or off-dry varieties, whose good examples can age for anywhere from 5-20 years, and which can taste delicious even after a century. Riesling is also one of those grapes wine aficionados can really immerse themselves into when studying since it's one of those grapes which is highly terroir-expressive, meaning location plays a huge role in determining the wine's taste.
The light body and acidity of traditionally made Pinot noir means that this wine is probably the best luxe red you can drink this summer. The range of aromas, flavors, and textures this wine exhibits also means that you can find a bottle to pair with just about every dish, and in fact one of Pinot noir's claims to fame is that it's a very food-friendly wine, unlike, for example, Cabernet sauvignon with its stronger tannins which demand an equally assertive food pairing. You'll have to take care when choosing bottles though—a lot of modern winemakers are making this wine in an increasingly powerful high-alcohol and fruit-forward style, which can be alright if you're in the middle of winter and looking for something to warm your belly, but it's totally off when you're fighting off the heat of summer. Location and alcohol content can be good pointers when picking out a lighter Pinot—European wines tend to go for the lighter style, at around 12-13% alcohol content, with the exemplar of course being France's Burgundy region, while New World Pinots tend to be the high-alcohol fruit bombs with alcohol levels 14% and up. There are some pretty good-value wines coming from Oregon and New Zealand though, so it's worth it to look in that direction. California Pinot noir is a harder sell for summer as the warm California sun tends to ripen the grapes to the level where they make high-alcohol wines.
White wine, bubbles, best served cold. Simple, yes? In contrast to the straightforward and refreshing reasons for making champagne your luxe summer wine of choice, good champagne has that complexity of flavors that rewards appreciative sipping. While modern tastes go toward the dry end of the spectrum, in the old days, Champagne was a lot sweeter than it is today. Drinkers who want to try this can go for the bottles labeled demi-sec and doux—the bubbles, acidity, and low serving temperature should all go toward balancing out the sweetness, and you can experience the taste enjoyed by royalty centuries past. For those who need more reasons than celebrations and taste to bring out the bubbly, we also point out the fact that studies have found that moderate consumption of Champagne helps the brain deal with the trauma of stroke, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's.