I’ve never been a big fan of summer—not for the reasons that most people cite (the heat, the humidity, the high price of a rental beach house), but because summer is so often synonymous with simple and cheap. Put “summer” in front of almost any noun, and you’re likely to get something insubstantial, unchallenging or…cheap. Consider, for example, “summer books.” When was the last time you saw War and Peace touted as a great summer read? Or had a “summer romance” that didn’t end right on Labor Day? Or tasted a “summer wine” whose greatest virtue wasn’t its price?
But my objection is not just that a summer wine is cheap; it’s that it seems limited to one of two types: a light, simple white or a light, simple rosé. I realize why this is the case—they’re both refreshing, ideal for hot weather—and yet, I believe a summer wine can and should be more than that. It should be just as interesting and complex as a wine served at any other time of the year.
So why do people drink cheap wine in the summer? My friend Zander Hargrave says it’s a question of quantity. “People drink more in the summer than they do at any other time of the year,” he opined. Zander discovered wine at a very early age: His parents were the first to plant vines on Long Island’s North Fork, at Hargrave Vineyard. And he acquired expensive tastes along the way. “I like to drink Champagne all year—Charles Heidsieck, Pommery, Pol Roger,” Zander said. “Although I’ll drink sparkling wine, like Roederer Estate from California, in the summer because I’m drinking more then; Champagne is expensive.”