Why does wine from a particular region compliment the cuisine of that region? Is it that the sun, soil and climate influence the profile of the wine? Or is there a human element styling the wine to fit the cuisine? This is one of my favorite wine conundrums. Regardless of the answer, it is a safe assumption that the food and wine from the same region will make a beautiful match. So, here in picturesque Seaside, Florida, where sunshine and seafood rule, let us look to the wine regions of the world located along the sea to influence our selections this summer. As the patios fill up and temperatures rise, these selections will keep you cool and be dynamite with the bounty of the gulf.
One particularly stunning varietal to drink this season is albariño. Grown in the coastal region of northwest Spain and Portugal, this grape is a perfect companion for shellfish. Albariño is an aromatic grape with hints of citrus, peach, honey and tropical fruits with flavors of almonds, vanilla, ginger and spices. On the palate it manages to be both crisp and creamy. This wine is a beauty with scallops, which can be overpowered by bigger whites.
In the heat of the day as we tend to order more salads, it is important to remember one rule: the acidity in your dish should not overpower the acidity in your wine. If this imbalance occurs, your wine will seem flat. New Zealand sauvignon blancs, with their racy acidity, should be a go-to for citrusy salads topped with fresh seafood. With aromas of grapefruit, limes, grasses and herbs, these sauvignon blancs are like summer in a glass.
For me, the ultimate patio wine is a French rosé from Provence. These are generally based on grenache, cinsaut, mourvedre and cabernet sauvignon. Therefore, they hold many of the same characteristics habitual red drinkers are seeking in a lighter and, most importantly, chilled bottle. Delightfully quaffable, try a rosé with grilled fish, seared tuna and heartier seafood dishes.
Karen Granger is a Sommelier and manager for Crush in Seaside. While new to the area, she is not new to the lifestyle. Granger has poured wine in Chicago, Ill., Columbus, Ohio, and previously designed wine lists in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Wines worth trying for Summer:
• Morgadio Albariño Rias Baixas, Spain.
• Mount Fishtail Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough, New Zealand.
• Domaine Houchart Rosé Provence, France.