Summer Wines – What You Need to Know

By Marsha Fottler –

Michael Green

Michael Green is one of America’s premier wine and spirits celebrities, serving as the Gourmet Magazine wine and spirits expert for 19 years along with making appearances on the Today Show, Food Network, MSNBC, and CNN. His wine stories as they relate to food, travel, business and lifestyle have appeared the New York Times, Fortune Small Business, and Entrepreneur Magazine, and his advice is sought by the corporate world as well as everyday wine drinkers who value his sensible (and sensuous) approach to buying, collecting and drinking wines for every day and celebratory occasions. He is an icon in the wine and spirits industry.

Michael serves as the Wine and Spirits Director and lead presenter for the Food Network Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival and is the headlining wine and spirits personality on the national Buick Discovery Tour. He travels the world thrilling audiences with his spirited wine and mixology performances, sharing his love of wine, spirits and authentic experiences.

Michael is also an accomplished playwright and is currently working on a new spirits-themed off-Broadway play. Michael’s first play, “Wine Lovers: The Musical” is currently touring the U.S. His new play, set during Prohibition, is slated to begin production.

Michael will be contributing wine articles regularly to Flavors & More. We recently asked him for some advice about choosing wines for summer meals or parties. Here’s what Michael said:


Q. When you think of summer wines, what characteristics do you want?

A. I seek out wines that are light, clean, crisp and dry. Modest alcohol content in a wine is also a good idea in the summer especially outdoors. If I am inside and the air conditioning is cranked, that’s another story!


Q. Should all summer wines be served chilled?

A. Many folks serve their wines at a temperature that is not going to show the wines to their best advantage. In general, the lighter the wine, the cooler it can be. Too cold and it will accentuate the wines acidity and mask the aroma nuances. Think Coca-Cola at room temperature and Coca-Cola cold. There is a difference! For lighter whites and Champagnes, I look for 40 to 45 degrees. For more complex whites I will serve them cool not cold, as high as 55 degrees. As for reds, I prefer to serve these wines at cellar temperature, around 58 to 60 degrees. If the red wine is lighter, say a Beaujolais or a oven Tempranillo from La Mancha, I will chill it even more. When in doubt, follow the “Michael Green 15-Minute Rule”. Take your white wines out of the fridge 15 minutes before serving; but put your red wines into the fridge 15 minutes before serving. Try it and if you have any doubts about the positive effect, taste the same wines at two different temperatures. You’ll notice the difference.


Q. What’s your opinion of Sangria? What’s the right wine to use?

A. I love Sangria if it is well made. As for the wine, an all-purpose red with no oak treatment is fine. Use fresh fruit and fresh juices. If you want to elevate or customize your Sangria, add some brandy. If you prefer white Sangria, look for un-oaked whites such as Airen from Spain or Pinot Grigio.


Q. What are your two or three favorite moderately priced or budget priced wines for picnic foods such sandwiches, salads, chips?

A. German Riesling, La Mancha Joven Tempranillo, and Rose (and I am not talking only about dry rose). A white Zindandel can be wonderful. With the salt and fat from chips and sandwiches, a touch of sweetness can be just the flavor you want for contrast and balance.


Q. What about steaks or burgers on the grill for an al fresco summer dinner?  A. Zinfandel, Beaujolais, Chinon, Joven (young Tempranillo). All should be served chilled.


Q. How about chicken and fish on the grill, a couple of favorites for those dining options?

A. You want to think light, crisp and dry so choose a German Riesling, Rose, Chinon, or Joven Tempranillo.


Q. You’re on vacation relaxing on the deck watching the sun slide into the water. What’s in your wine glass?

A. You assume I take a vacation? Oh, yeah, my work is usually a vacation. When I’m relaxing on the deck I want Airen, Sauvignon Blanc or German Riesling. I tend to be a white wine sort of guy in the summer because I live in New York City where it is brutally hot in the summer. I’m looking for something refreshing and light.


Q.You’ve been invited to a friend’s house for a summer tapas party of small plates and sharing platters. What wine are you bringing?

A. Unless I am asked to bring something in a specific category, I’m apt to bring a bottle of dessert wine. One bottle can serve as many as 10 and it is a festive way to end the evening. If I am asked to bring the wines for the meal – say tapas – I would head to Spain, figuratively. Lately, I’m a fan of the of the wines of La Mancha, home of Manchego cheese, saffron, garlic and yummy wines. I believe in serving regional wines with regional food.


Q. Do you have a favorite summer drink made with wine?

A. A well-made Sangria.


Q. What are three pricey wines you want to add to your summer inventory of wines to sip in June, July and August.

A. A great White Burgundy, a Barolo and a well made Pinot Noir. Serve with air conditioning.

twitter: @mgwine

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