Let's talk about summer wines?
The calendar says that it's still summer, so I thought that it wouldn’t hurt to be reminded of which wines you should drink this season and how to pair them at the table.
I was invited to participate in the 1st Wine Talk of the Uva de Ouro wine contest. Chef Nuno Bergonse joined me so that together we could show different pairings between summer wines and easy-to-cook snacks.
In the first part of the Wine Talk, you’ll also be able to watch Vera Casanova and Aníbal Coutinho, Continente winemakers, and Chef Nuno Bergonse answered questions on the theme of Summer Wines.
The diversity and richness of Portuguese wines are often overwhelming, and the consumer, faced with such variety often ends up always choosing the same wine over and over again. The consumption of white wines tends to increase in summer, especially those from the Vinho Verde region. Rosés are found more often at the tables of the Portuguese, but the sparkling, natural, or Frisantes and even light-bodied reds are left for other occasions.
All the wines I mentioned above, that is, all types of still and sparkling wines are fantastic options to accompany any meal during summer. You'll just have to look for the most acidic and elegant in taste. And if possible with less alcohol content, below 13% vol.
Avoid wines with long aging in wood or too young if it’s a wine designed for storage. However, you should also consider what you are going to eat and that yes, it is still a decisive fact when choosing the wine. Do you want to know more? Read on.
Wine Talk Part One
How to choose whites and rosés for fish dishes
As you heard in the first part of Wine Talk, Portugal is a small country with vineyards in very different places. Be it the climate, soil types, or the altitude at which the vines are planted. And all this will be reflected in the characteristics of the wines.
For example, wines with a maritime influence are lighter in body, alcohol, rich in acidity and excellent in freshness. These wines are from the regions of Lisbon, Bairrada, Vinho Verde. Choose small fish and shellfish, both cooked in a simple way.
In the center and inland north, high plateau, and mountain areas, the wines are denser with good color and structure. Continuing on the trend of fish pairing, look for denser varieties of fish, such as a cod or a tuna steak.
To the south, the regions of Algarve, Alentejo, Península de Setúbal, and ending in the Tejo, offer stronger and more aromatic wines, with less acidity. They go well with medium-sized fish such as Dourada or Sea bass, preferably on the grill.
Complex fish dishes want complex wines
Just because it's summer doesn’t mean that you'll stop enjoying elaborate dishes. Think Arroz de Marisco (Seafood rice) or a Cataplana à Pescador. Here the wine should also be more “elaborated”, either by vinification or aging in wood.
Choose a white wine of some age, for example, five years old, preferably made from several varieties for added complexity.
Remember that red wine is also with you in summer and as always, pay special attention to drinking temperatures. Neither the white is too cold (less than 5ºC, 41ºF) nor the red at room temperature. On hot days, drinking an elegant and smooth red wine at 15ºC (59ºF) is ideal.
Wine Talk Part Two (13’)
In the beautiful garden of the Vila Galé Collection Palácio dos Arcos Hotel Chef Nuno Bergonse and I propose four summer pairings with some of the wines awarded in the Uva de Ouro wine competition.
Vinha do Bispado white wine from Douro
Aromatic and fresh white wine made from traditional Douro grape varieties (Rabigato, Viosinho, Moscatel Galego), to be drunk at 7ºC.
It was served with sheep's milk cheese - Azeitão DOP served on toast with fresh figs and walnuts. The contrast between the fat of the cheese and salt with the sweetness of the fig and the crunch of the toast and walnut.
Contrary to tradition, today increasingly, cheeses go well with white wines, especially the younger the cheese. The “buttery” paste asks for something with acidity to make the harmonization tasty and the digestive ending.
Terras do Demo Natural Sparkling Blanc de Noir Bruto from Távora Varosa
Bruto style natural white sparkling wine, produced from the Pinot Noir red grape variety.
Vinified without skin contact to obtain white wine and with the second fermentation in bottle (Metodo Classico). Serve at 7.ºC.
The suggestion was smoked salmon with Creme Fraiche, capers, radishes, and chives. Once again a fat side (salmon), with the creaminess and freshness of Creme Fraiche and a fun spice given by the radishes. The capers and chives give a vegetable touch that offers a fresh aftertaste combined with the persistence of the sparkling wine.
My suggestion is to transform this appetizer into a salad, as a main dish. Combine everything together on a plate with lettuce leaves, or even just spinach. Natural sparkling wines can also be served with a main dish.
Valmaduro Sauvignon Blanc wine from Lisbon
Awarded with a Gold Medal in the Uva de Ouro contest, made from the Sauvignon Blanc variety known for its herbaceous notes. Very aromatic and with balanced acidity. With 12.5% alcohol, enjoy at 7ºC.
The choice was breaded shrimp with mango and sweet and sour sauce. Portions have the fried shrimp, the ripe and sweet mango plus the sauce with spicy notes. Here, the wine will act as an aggregator, it will bridge the gap between the various components of the dish and the profile of the Sauvignon Blanc variety is perfect in this case.
Vinha da Premium Rosé from Península de Setúbal
A batch of three red grape varieties (Castelão, Touriga Nacional, Aragonês) that give the wines fresh red fruit notes, a wine with a sweet finish to drink at 8ºC.
Chicken kebabs with pesto sauce. The kebabs were marinated in yogurt sauce and then grilled. Served with a pesto sauce made with cashews.
Chicken or other birds are easily paired with serious rosé wines. And what is a serious rosé? A wine with a dry taste. Unless the sauce was spicy, then the option should be a rose with a sweet aftertaste to balance the burning sensation in the mouth.
In this case, the chicken offered a texture to the harmonization (volume), with the need to chew.
Once again, a wine that can be served during the aperitif and then transferred to the table. Or simply being enjoyed by the glass, without food.
How to test a pairing
Do you want to practice at home? As I said in the Wine Talk you can do it in three steps.
1) Taste the wine, one goal q.s.;
2) Taste the food (a forkful of all the ingredients);
3) Go back to drinking wine.
The flavor of one part must not overpower the other. Together they must give new sensations, just as lovers walk hand in hand.
At the end of this Wine Talk, I gave two recommendations to simplify wines, which I transcribe here.
1. The same glass for several wines
Wines with similar profiles, such as those mentioned above, can be served in the same type
of glass – in white.
Serving a rosé in a white glass is a habit while serving sparkling wines is not yet. Let me say that you are guaranteed to identify and appreciate the aromas and flavors of a sparkling wine much more from a white glass than from a traditional Flute. Due to the shape of the chalice, the aromatic explosion hardly happens in a cylindrical flute.
2. Have a Frappé at home!
In addition to drinking the wines at the correct temperature, it’s important to keep them throughout the meal. That's why you always have a Frappé in your house and a bag of ice in the freezer.
You'll be able to refresh any wine in 20 minutes and, above all, keep it at the correct temperature throughout the meal, even more so if it happens outside.
Summer wines in three words are – uncomplicated, light, and fresh.
Watch the Wine Talk here and tell me what was your favorite food and wine pairing.