For Warmer Weather, Let’s Refresh Our Sipper Standbys with Livelier Libations

As we continue to grapple with these unpredictable times, it’s normal to seek comfort in activities and routines that are familiar as they ground us and give us a frame of reference.  The same philosophy applies to our beverages—we’ve been relying on flavors and brands that we know bring us joy.  But why not use this time to refresh some standbys and evolve to something new?

Chardonnay You Say? How about a Pouilly-Fumé?

As the most popular varietal in the world, it’s no wonder Chardonnay is the gold standard of white wines. It’s medium-bodied nature can be restrained and mineral like a French Chablis, or oaky and round as is common in the Napa Valley. For warmer weather, why not explore another benchmark white wine? Made from Sauvignon Blanc—literally “wild white” in French—Pouilly-Fumé is the signature wine of France’s Loire Valley.  More aromatic and complex than Chardonnay, this other popular wine displays citrus aromas, crisp minerality, and a velvety finish.  Explore Domaine Fournier Pouilly-Fumé “Les Deux Cailloux” for a delicious example of this classic elegant wine perfect for seafood, salad, and summer fare.

Red Blend Your Friend? Why not a Priorat?

Red blends have been trending lately, but the technique of making wine from several different grape varieties is as old as winemaking itself. Some of the most storied wines have always been blends—Bordeaux or Chateauneuf-du-Pape anyone? But demand for domestic red blends has exploded in recent years and they’ve become the go-to wines for many. For an intriguing, powerful, yet refreshing alternative, try a Priorat from Cataluña, Spain. Typically made from blending Carignan, Grenache, Syrah, and sometimes Cabernet Sauvignon grown in special llicorella soils, these wines are spicy, complex but elegant on the palate. Try Ferrer Bobet’s Priorat for a on-trend blend that’s perfect for warmer weather grilled fish and meats.

Ferrer Bobet’s Priorat

Rosé All Day? How About 1001 Nights?

Pandemic or not, the growth of rosé wine continues to defy all expectations and shows no signs of slowing down. It has become a bona fide, “serious” category of wine with a dizzying array of styles. The Provencal version is considered the mainstay with this region in southern France claiming the origins of the blend, but most wine regions now produce their own interpretation of this pink drink.  Made from juice with brief contact on red grape skin, or from blending juice from both red and white varietals, rosé is ultimate year-round, food-friendly wine.  Switch up your summer sipper with a gorgeous Moroccan and explore Domaine Sahari made from an energetic, zippy, yet complex blend of Cinsault and Grenache.  A surprise to many, Morocco has been producing wines since the Phoenician times and this rosé is at once steeped in tradition yet deliciously approachable. Pale pink in color, pair this with couscous, chicken or vegetable tajine.

Margarita? Si! Con Mezcal, por favor!

Machetazo Mezcal Espadín

The margarita isn’t going anywhere—in fact, it continues to be the world’s most popular cocktail with endless variations limited only by the creativity of mixologists and cocktail lovers everywhere. In its purest form, this iconic drink requires only tequila, triple sec, and lime juice. While the origins of the cocktail are disputed, there is no doubt this refreshing, tart, year-round libation will firmly root our summer traditions.  For a new take on this classic cocktail, use mezcal—a distilled spirit made from roasting agave plants in earthen ovens—in place of tequila. It’s subtle smoky aroma and flavor will add depth and complexity to the drink while affording you the chance to explore the fastest growing spirit on the market. Try Machetazo Mezcal Espadín in a “naked” version of your margarita mixing 2 oz of the mezcal, 1 oz of fresh lime juice, ½ oz agave syrup, and sparkling water in a salt-rimmed rocks glass. Also stunning in “neat” form, this savory, citrusy, and complex mezcal will introduce you to the artisanal and sustainable production techniques that mark Mexico’s national spirit.


Known locally as the “Wine Evangelist,” Erlinda is a certified wine educator, columnist, and sommelier who teaches about wine in an engaging and approachable manner. Her wine column #WINEDERLUST appeals to wine enthusiasts and novices alike, while her sold-out seminars, held in pop-up locations around our area, are high-energy, engaging and educational. As ABC Columbia’s resident Sommelier, Erlinda also teaches #WINESCHOOL on morning TV.

Working with her industry colleagues, Erlinda helps local and international beverage retailers and suppliers engage with the community. She’s organized wine festivals, launched restaurant wine programs, and reported on the local wine scene. She hosts intimate wine discovery appointments at local venues and creates private educational events. Through her passion project, ViníCola, Erlinda has helped our community experience wine in a new, interactive way.

Erlinda earned her Certified Specialist in Wine credential from the Society of Wine Educators and received the Level 3 Award with Merit from the globally-recognized Wine Studies Education Trust. Erlinda also holds the Level 1 certification from the renowned International Court of Master Sommeliers and was awarded the Certified Sherry Wine Specialist credential from the prestigious Regulatory Council of Jerez, Spain. She is an experienced presenter, instructor, writer and taster. | erlinda@thevinicola com

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