Summer Wines to Beat Sacramento’s Heat

By Amelia McLear

With warmer weather finally arriving in Sacramento, it’s time (thank goodness) to pack away those sweaters and umbrellas and schedule some much-needed pool time and summer cook-outs. It’s also time to start packing the wine fridge with some cool summer wines to enjoy with all of those hot-weather activities. Here are some of my favorite picks…

Sauvignon Blanc

Top on my list is the St. Supéry Dollarhide Sauvignon Blanc ($34). This is one of my all-around favorite wines that epitomizes my ideal summer day of lying out by the pool, reading a magazine and listening to music. It has a crisp, green bell pepper flavor with a juicy, citrusy finish. This Sauvignon Blanc has been a part of my summer wine repertoire for about three years, ever since my boyfriend and I first tasted it at St. Supéry Winery and Vineyards in Napa and quite frankly, became wine club members because of it. In general, Sauvignon Blanc is a flavorful, easy-to-drink white wine that is durable enough to stand up to the Sacramento summer heat and light enough so you can have a few glasses without feeling too tipsy. I like to think it’s a happy medium between a heavier, oaky Chardonnay, a sweeter Riesling and a very light Pinot Grigio.

Some of my other favorite summer Sauvignon Blanc options are: De Sante Old Vine Sauvignon Blanc ($32) and Frog’s Leap Sauvignon Blanc ($18).


A fun white wine that also reminds me of summer is Moscato d’Asti. Made from the Italian Muscat grape, this is a slightly sweet, bubbly drink that is light and fruity and a great champagne alternative for a Sunday summer brunch. I don’t have a specific brand to recommend (they are all good!), but make sure you get the Moscato d’Asti varietal, not just straight Moscato, which can be heavier and syrupier. Moscato d’Asti ranges in price from $10-20 and can easily be found in any local wine shop (look for the Italian white wine section).

Pinot Gris, Grüener-Veltliner and Rosé, Oh My!

Other white varietals that I am also fond of during the warmer weather are Pinot Gris, Grüener-Veltliner and a white blend from Handley Cellars in Anderson Valley called “Water Tower White” ($18) that is a well-balanced mix of Viognier, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, and Riesling.

A note on rosé: oftentimes when I go wine-tasting, wineries will offer up their rosé as a great summertime wine. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that rosé “goes great with barbeque.” Ok, maybe so, but honestly, I’m just not that into rosé. However, one that I do like is the Robert Sinskey Vin Gris of Pinot Noir. Robert Sinskey refers to it as a “European-style” rosé with a pale salmon color that tastes of wild strawberries and cucumbers. It’s definitely tasty. Unfortunately, the wine is sold out; they only make a limited supply each year and it always sells out. You might try to order it online (I saw it listed on for $24).

Looking for More Options – Try a Local Sommelier

Sommeliers are always great resources, and thankfully in Sacramento we are lucky to have many willing to help us discover new favorites. I called my favorite “Grid” sommelier, Jonathan Klonecke at the L Wine Bar & Lounge, to see what wines he recommends for the summertime. In general, he says he looks for wines that are low in alcohol (7-9% range) such as a sparkling wine, Riesling or a French rosé, which is a less sweet style of rosé (similar to my Robert Sinskey preference!).

Interestingly, he also suggested trying un-oaked Spanish red wine that has been slightly chilled on ice. To me, that sounded something like sangria, which I love for summer too, so I am excited to try his chilled red wine idea. When grilling hamburgers or other meats, he said a spicier red wine, such as a Syrah, is a great option. Of course, since he is their sommelier, many of his ideas for good summer wines can be found on the L Wine Bar & Lounge wine menu. His recommendations include:

  • 2008 Yellow & Blue Torrontés ($12/1 liter tetra-pak). This picnic and eco-friendly wine is “cheap and cheerful” he says, and it is also one of their current happy hour wines.
  • Point Conception Pinot Grigio ($18). Jonathan calls this pink-ish Italian wine “different and refreshing,” saying it pairs well with those hard-to-pair foods like asparagus and artichokes.
  • 2007 Valduero Arbucala Toro Esencial Tempranillo ($15). Fruity with spice, this is one you could ice down like they do in the Spanish tapas bars in Spain and give it a slight chill on a hot night, he says.

So, there you have it. Pour yourself a glass of one your favorite summer wines, and cheers to the arrival of some good old-fashioned Sacramento heat!

EDITOR’s NOTE: Interested in learning more from one of the best in town? Join the L Wine Lounge (1801 L St) TONIGHT for WoW – Wine on Wednesday. From 6-8pm, you can taste 5 wines for $10. Yeah, you are NOT reading that wrong. Wines include:

  • Segura Viudas NV ‘Brut Reserva’ Cava, Spain
  • Yellow & Blue ’08 Torrontes, Argentina
  • Point Concepcion ’08 ‘Celestina’ Pinot Grigio, Santa Barbara County
  • Valuero ’07 Arbucala Essencial Tempranillo, Toro, Spain
  • Tormaresca ’08 ‘Neprica’ Primitivo Blend, Puglia, Italy

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1 Comment

  1. Jamie says

    Great piece, but I happen to love me some rose in the summer! My favorite is Gurrutxaga Txakoli Rosado (I know, it’s a mouthful… it’s made in San Sebastian, in Spain’s Basque country.) I discovered it at the wine shop at 58 Degrees (not sure if the bar/restaurant serves it), and it is amazing… not too sweet, and it has a slight effervescence that is perfect in hot weather.

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