Recently, we asked a bunch of sommeliers and wine professions what they thought would (or should) be the wine of summer 2021. And, by its nature, this was a very silly question. Everyone has different tastes, and it’s not like any of us are trying to start a new monolithic wine trend here. Think of this list as an antidote to that, with a bunch of different paths to choose from. If you’re stuck in a rut, drinking the same sauvignon blanc or funky natural wine every weekend afternoon because it’s easy and you feel like that’s what you’re supposed to do, here’s how to branch out. (Although to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with sauvignon blanc or funky natural wine.)
When we talked to our group of wine professionals, we didn’t know what to expect. Well, except when it came to Ariel Arce. Ariel likes Champagne. We know this, and we’re grateful for it. But she wasn’t the only one who suggested some bubbles. In fact, sparkling rosé came up at least twice, as did co-fermented wines. If you aren’t yet familiar with those, you’ll find not one, but two brief explanations below, along with some specific producers currently making that style of wine. A Korean rice wine also made the list, and Ashley Santoro, proprietor of L’Itos and Leisir Wine, has a recommendation that involves dumping wine directly from the bottle into your mouth.
You obviously can’t go wrong with any of these picks, so keep scrolling for a brief dive into these wine professionals’ minds as they make their cases for what you should be drinking while it’s still warm out.
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“Australian Riesling should be the wine of summer 2021! There are the classic styles – crisp, bone-dry, citrus-driven – which are perfect on a hot day or with fresh seafood (think: Pewsey Vale, Pikes, and Seppeltsfield), but there is more diversity in the style than you might think. Many producers are dabbling in off-dry versions, which make a great apéritif or pairing for spicy food (try: Grosset ‘Alea’, Reed ‘White Heart’, or d’Arenberg ‘Dry Dam’).
And then there are dry (or dryish) styles that push for more texture, fullness, and a touch of residual sugar to balance their acidity (à la German, Alsatian, or Austrian dry rieslings). These wines are profound, complex, and tell an amazing story of the place they’re from. Look out for Stargazer’s Tasmanian Rieslings, Mac Forbes ‘RS’ series from Strathbogie Ranges, and Frankland Estate’s Rieslings from Frankland River in Western Australia.
A tip for finding which style you want: look at alcohol levels. Though it’s not fail-safe, typically the classic Australian dry styles will be 11.5-12.5%, off-dry styles will be lower in alcohol (11.5% or below), and the richer, textural dry styles will be 12.5%+.”
Shop Jane’s Picks:
“The wine of the summer is going to look a little different from what we’re used to—fruit wines are on the come up, and this summer is going to be about ciders and fruit wines! Climate change and wildfires mean winemakers are investing more into co-ferments (that’s grapes fermented with fruit, or the reverse). Apples, quince, blueberries, and other fruits make fantastic wines. The gorgeous sparkling wines from producers like Bluet and RAS are made from 100% Maine blueberries, and wineries like Ashanta Wines and Coturri in California are making ciders fermented on grape skins that are showing us a new version of what’s possible when we expand our fermentation horizons. Delicious, refreshing, and environmentally conscious.”
Shop Margot’s Picks:
“Txakolina is a perennial summer go-to, but even more so considering these post-pandemic times with temperatures rising and people more than READY to socialize. Whether white or rosé, the wine is generally light, crisp, and refreshing with a lower alcohol content (perfect for long beach and day hang sessions). Oh, and let’s not forget that Txakolina is generally poured from a height or directly into one’s mouth! While the point is to increase the natural prickle, it also makes for a good show.”
Shop Ashley’s Pick:
General Manager, All Together Now
“The wine of summer 2021 will/should be large format bottles. They signify a party, and for the first time, we can have groups large enough to warrant a party bottle. A lighter-bodied red like ‘R20’ from Olivier Lemasson makes a perfect wine for group hangs in the park or to pair with veggies off of the grill. A perennial favorite at All Together Now, this blend of Cabernet Franc, Grolleau, and Cot (Malbec) is super versatile and even a big bottle may not be enough.”
Shop Jeremy’s Pick:
Owner/Executive Chef, Winona’s
“My wine of the summer is the traditional Korean rice wine Makgeolli, or rather, specifically the Makgeolli brewed by Alice Jun and her team in Greenpoint, ‘Hana Makgeolli’. All of their cuvées are perfect for summertime, barbecues, roof hangs, beach days, or really anything. Each one is bright, zippy, and equal parts playful and complex. Hana Makgeolli is also the perfect wildcard for surprising your natty wine or craft beer-loving friends who, let’s face it, are likely over orange wine and ‘funky’ Pét-Nats by now.”
Shop Cressida’s Pick:
Coly Den Haan
“I think after this last year or so of isolation, we’re going to be all about the co-mingling of friends and family, and also co-fermentation wines! In particular, I’m loving that style imagined not just with different grapes but other fruits or botanicals. Basically, during the fermentation process, the winemaker can combine apples, pears, flowers, herbs, or any other delicious and fermentable option with wine grapes. The most common expression is somewhat of a wine/cider hybrid. I love my co-fermented wines dry, but they still tend to have a lot of really exciting aromatics and rich flavor profiles.”
Shop Coly’s Picks:
Buyer and Bar Manager, Tailfeather
“Summer in the city calls for refreshing and delicate wines. Despite the hype with funky wines, some can be all about the nattiness without any substance. How about a classic and pretty wine done the right way? I think this summer calls for something sparkling, refreshing, and fun! Let’s celebrate being social again and having a somewhat normal life back. And what better way than bubbles? Terrevive’s ‘No Autoclave’ Lambrusco is light, refreshing, and an example of how good natural wines can also be absolutely delicious!”
Shop Andreina’s Pick:
“My prediction for the ‘official wine of the summer of 2021’ is Rosé Prosecco. Prior to 2020, Prosecco legally had to be made from one grape, a white wine grape called Glera. If any other grape was blended with Glera like Pinot Noir, or Pinot Nero as it is known in Italy, it would be declassified and would have to be called a Rosato Spumante or a sparkling pink wine from Italy. Now that Rosé Prosecco has the official designation of DOC status, you will see a proliferation of these pink sparkling wine options hitting the store shelves in large numbers. And with the attractive color, the approachable flavor profiles, and the affordable price tag, I predict that Rosé Prosecco is going to be the ‘it’ wine of the summertime.”
Shop Charles’ Picks:
“Summer 2021 is going to be all about making up for lost time and low-ABV drinks, which makes Piquette the perfect pairing. These low-ABV slammers - made from the seeds, stems, and remaining skins left over from initial fermentation - are light, crisp, and refreshing. Plus, they’re often packaged in both bottles and cans, so they’re friendly to take anywhere and drink all day. Old Westminster, The Austin Winery, Obsidian Wine Co., and St. Reginald Parish make stellar examples of the style.”
Shop Kat’s Picks:
Owner, Happy Cork
“Anything rosé is your typical response for summer wines, however I’d love to see more people drinking bubbles this summer! There are amazing sparkling selections out there including but not limited to Hrlm Champagne, Stuyvesant champagne, Esrever sparkling white blend, and so many more. But for the true rosé drinkers I would recommend LVE rosé by John Legend along with the new Stoudemire Rosé by Amar’e Stoudemire, and def we’re loving La Fete du Rosé all year long. These wines are all available in store.”
Shop Sunshine’s Picks:
“People keep saying we are going into the Roaring Twenties, so we might as well be popping every bottle of Champagne we can get our hands on! Keep it fresh all summer long with NV high acid wines. Bring one every time you haven’t seen a friend in a while. Celebrate each other.”
Shop Ariel’s Pick:
“I’ve said time and time again that Riesling is the next “it” varietal; a bone dry Kabinett would be perfect for any summer day. Germany, of course, is the birthplace of Riesling, so [German Rieslings are] generally my first choice, but don’t sleep for one minute on my home state of NY. My wine of the summer is Empire Estate Dry Riesling.”
Shop Jermaine’s Pick:
“It’s hard to pick just one, but I think this summer is all about chillable reds. [They’re] the perfect pairing for warm summer days in your backyard with the grill going. I love the current vintage of Valdigué from Birdhorse Wines. It’s a juicy, rich red wine that has just enough pop of candied black fruit and low enough tannins that it stands up well to a hard chill. It also satisfies your thirst for a fuller, more complex wine that won’t make you feel overheated on a sunny day. I like to pair it with burgers, ribs, and grilled Indian-style kebabs.”
Shop Simi’s Pick: