Advice on Wines and Spirits for Hot Summer Days

  • Jill Newman

With the warm summer months here, many people are entertaining outside or visiting friends, and Eric Goldstein, co-proprietor and marketing president at Park Avenue Liquor Shop in New York, offers advice on what to drink in the heat, and more.

Q.  What is a good, light summer wine?

A. Just because you’re breaking out your “summer whites” doesn’t mean you have to strictly drink white wines. “Light” applies to the wine being light on the palate. Many white, rosé, and sparkling wines fall into this category. In the summer, many people tend to stay away from red. The fact that red wines are served at room temperature and have a heavier body doesn’t pair well with summer heat and humidity. Pinot Noir, however (which has become very popular year-round), is a good example of a light-bodied red wine.

This leads us to the “summer” part of “summer wine.” At our store, we certainly see an uptick in sales and popularity of crisp whites and French rosé during the summer months. For the same reasons that heavier reds might not be found at summer soirees, you will most likely see more wines such as Cotes du Provence rosé, Sancerre, and Champagne (including sparkling wine and Prosecco). Those wines are more refreshing on the palate and tend to have more flavor characteristics that are considered “summery.” All of that being said, the current trend is definitely Drink what you want, when you want.

Q. What is an appropriate summer wine or Champagne to bring to hosts when visiting for summer barbecues?

A.   When bringing either wine or Champagne as a host/hostess gift for a barbecue or summer get-together, there are some things to consider. First, if what you’re bringing is strictly a gift, then bring something you know they like to drink, but don’t necessarily get the brand that they always drink. Ask the salesperson at the wine store if there is something “like” that brand but is perhaps slightly different. This way you’re putting a little thought into the gift and exposing them to new things.

If what you’re bringing is part of what will be served at the soiree, then my advice is to bring something that you like to drink. When it’s BYOB, don’t rely on someone else to bring the brand/style you prefer. A nice consequence is that if someone discovers that they like it, you’ll look better for bringing it.

Q.   What are some great spirits for hot summer days—and your favorite cocktails for them?

A.   With summer cocktails, refreshment is the name of the game. Just as people tend to gravitate toward white wines in the summer, “white” spirits tend to be the theme when the temperature rises. Gin (my personal favorite) has become very popular as a category and as a result, customers can really be specific when looking for a certain style. Botanical, sweet, floral, citrus, and spiced are all acceptable descriptions for gins these days.

At Park Avenue Liquor Shop, we’ve seen a demand for local, Brooklyn-made gins. We recently hosted Greenhook Ginsmiths for a tasting at the store and made the drink Brooklyn Beauties, which is Greenhook gin, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, and fresh-squeezed lemon juice. Summer in a glass.

Q.   What is an unexpected drink for the heat?
 
A.   My immediate answer to this question is Sorel. The guys at Jack From Brooklyn stopped by the store with their product called Sorel and it knocked our socks off (which was okay since it was a warm day). It’s a drink that originates from the Caribbean and has strong notes of clove and other spices as well as ripe berries. It’s fantastic on its own but it also mixes well with sparkling wine and lends itself to lots of cocktails. Another drink that is putting a bit of a spin on its classic name is Lillet, which has launched a rosé. Customers are already asking us to bring it in, and it sounds like it is a bottle full of crisp refreshment.

Park Avenue Liquor Shop, 292 Madison Ave., 212.685.2442, www.parkaveliquor.com

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