Sniff, Sip, Swallow

‘Summer wines should be refreshing,” says Steve Gett, wine director at Union Square Wines and Spirits, one of the city’s finest purveyors of the grape. With reds, go for “ripe, lush, juicy lip-smackers,” Gett advises. With whites, choose “crisp, fruit-driven styles and avoid overly oaked Chardonnay and other dense wines,” he says. Here, Gett’s summer-cellar must-haves, all at a an economy-appropriate $25 or less.

Photo: Annie Schlecter

1. Leclerc-Briant Non-Vintage Brut Champagne (France), $20
“Plain and simple, nothing beats bubbly on a hot summer day,” says Gett. Leclerc-Briant, he says, has everything you want in a non-vintage Brut—“a perfect marriage of green-apple and hazelnut flavors with a hint of toastiness.”

2. Dezi 2000 “Dezio” (Italy), $17
Ignore cheap and insipid Montepulcianos that have given the grape a bad name, says Gett. Check out the serious bottlings from the central Adriatic wine regions that are making this a favorite choice among the Italian-wine cognoscenti. Dezio’s deliciously spicy Montepulciano has fruit flavors like roasted plums and black cherries, plus a hint of mocha. Pair it with grilled portobellos or a juicy steak.

3. Craggy Range 2002 Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand), $25
Craggy produces perhaps the coolest Kiwi white of the season, says Gett. He recommends it with anything featuring goat cheese. The wine has “ripe, velvety, citrusy characteristics with a long, zesty finish that pairs well with the tang and creaminess of the cheese.”

4. Woop Woop 2002 Shiraz (Australia), $13
Gett calls this “one of the tastiest new Aussie reds.” With blackberry, vanilla, and black-pepper flavors, it’s juicy rather than heavy. Serve it slightly chilled, he suggests, with burgers, barbecued chicken, or ribs.

5. Iron Horse 2002 Rosé of Pinot Noir (California), $15
Summer is the season to drink pink, and dry rosés are best, says Gett: “You get all those red-wine aromas complemented by a nice coolness.” The Iron Horse rosé offers wild-strawberry aromas, cherry fruit flavors, and a refreshing tang. Try it with Mexican, says Gett.

6. Lingenfelder 2001 “Bird Label” Riesling (Germany), $12
This bright, crisp Riesling from the well-regarded 2001 vintage features ripe peach flavors balanced with thirst-quenching acidity. Drink it as an aperitif or try it with Thai food, says Gett: “The fusion of crisp, slightly sweet, savory, and spicy flavors is perfect.”

Sniff, Sip, Swallow