F&W's Ray Isle names summer's most chillable reds, whites and rosés, all with bright acidity and not a lot of alcohol (under 12.5 percent). Plus, his favorite wine cocktails to make in a pitcher and a no-holds-barred light-beer smack down.
Value Summer Wine: Best Light-Bodied Wines
2010 Cusumano Insolia ($12) Sicily's local Insolia grape gives this white wine peach and citrus notes. It's aged in stainless steel tanks to keep its flavors fresh.
2010 Remo Farina Bianco di Custoza ($14) The Bianco di Custoza region, at the edge of northern Italy's Lake Garda, is an overlooked source for aromatic, light-bodied whites like this one.
2010 Skouras Moscofilero ($15) With its aromas of honeysuckle and tangerine, this brisk white from one of Greece's top wineries smells as though it might be sweet. Instead, it's bone-dry and crisp, an ideal match for oysters on the half shell.
2010 Waterbrook Sangiovese Rosé ($11) Washington's Columbia Valley isn't known for the Sangiovese grape variety, nor for rosés. As a result, Waterbrook's lightly floral bottling is a nice surprise.
2009 Martinshof Zweigelt ($12) For this spicy Austrian red, wine importer Carlo Huber blends the local Zweigelt variety with a small amount of Pinot Noir to "soften the edges," he says.
2009 Georges Duboeuf Juliénas ($13) In the great '09 vintage, all of Duboeuf's cru bottlings (those labeled from the 10 major towns of Beaujolais) are good. But this fragrant red is the best.
A Rosé with an Alias
Cool breezes from the San Pablo Bay, off Napa's Carneros district, help give the 2010 Sean Minor Four Bears Vin Gris ($15) a bright, crisp acidity to go with its strawberry-inflected fruit. (Vin gris is an old French term for rosé that more and more California wineries are adopting.) Minor's bottling is 100 percent Pinot Noir.
Value Summer Wine: Favorite Pitcher Cocktails
The quintas (wine estates) along Portugal's Douro River often serve this light cocktail to guests before dinner.
A specialty of the Duls gelateria in Milan, the Prosecco-based cocktail adapted here is lightly sweet and surprisingly refreshing.
It's unlikely that Romeo and Juliet ever drank this citrusy cocktail in Verona, but on summer afternoons, everyone else in the Italian city seems to.
Value Summer Wine: How Hot Restaurants Cool Guests
Courtesy of Alois Lageder, 1823
Death Valley, CA
2010 Riff Pinot Grigio ($10)
Death Valley's Furnace Creek Resort pours icy Pinot Grigio
2008 Valdemar Tempranillo Rioja ($12)
Red wine with ice, lemon slices and Sprite (tinto del verano) is the classic summer drink here, says Enrique Becerra of Enrique Becerra restaurant.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
2009 Pascal Jolivet Sancerre ($20)
Diners at the Dubai Nobu adore this crisp white.Courtesy of Sula Winery
2010 Sula Sauvignon Blanc ($15)
2010 Château d'Esclans Whispering Angel Rosé ($20)
Light Beer Picks & Pans
F&W editors blind taste-tested 11 ubiquitous light beers, ranging from 64 to 128 calories per 12 ounces (most around 110). Here, our picks and pans.
Take a Pass
Coors Light Thin and watery.
MGD 64 Little flavor except for a slight lemony note.
Amstel Light Identifiable as European; mild grain notes.
Heineken Light No particular flaws, but not much character, either.Courtesy of Sam Adams
Abita Light Has a nice maltiness.
Well Worth Buying
Summer Wine Pairings
F&W's Marcia Kiesel uses Picholine olives and herbes de Provence to give this luscious cold roast a distinctly southern French feel. Serve it with an equally cool Provençal rosé, which is certainly what anyone from Marseille would do. Two to look for are the crisp 2010 Chateau Miraval Pink Floyd and the berry-scented 2010 Aix, from Domaine Saint Aix.
Marcia created this basil-flecked chicken recipe as a partner for Soave, the lightly herbal white wine of Italy's Veneto region. Five top Soaves to seek out in the current 2010 vintage are Suavia, Pieropan, Pra, Inama and Tedeschi.
Video: Summer Wines