After such a long, hard Ontario winter, I’m thrilled to finally pull off some layers and start to enjoy the lighter wines that are a hallmark of summer. This is when I start to pull out crisp Rosés, refreshing Rieslings and a lot of red and white blends. Summer wines are to drink on the patio or savour at the cottage, to down with greasy barbeque or simple salads.
Below are a few wines I’ve tried recently and think make good summer sippers. These reflect a few different quality and price points, so I hope there’s something for all your summer needs – from elegant wines for a romantic evening to well-priced crowd pleasers for your big backyard bash.

When I tried this 2011 White Cabernet Rosé during a recent visit to Daniel Lenko’s winery I was blown away by how nuanced it is. The nose leaps out of the glass with pear, strawberry and fresh fruit notes, but when you sip, it’s not as sweet as the nose would lead you to believe – it’s very dry and refreshing. This is the perfect summer wine for the wine aficionado in your life – elegant, well-crafted and unique. Lenko’s wines are something special and well worth the splurge. This one is available at the winery or can be ordered online.

Creekside Estate Winery always has a pretty fabulous selection of relaxed, summer-friendly wines. This year, my pick for the season is their 2012 Pinot Grigio. Admittedly, Shawn and I visited the weekend before their new releases, so I wasn’t able to sample their always reliable Rosé, but the Pinot Grigio was a hit with us. With its lovely gold with hints of silver-pink colour, lemon and strawberry on the nose and citrus, peach and apple on the palate, this is a very good option for patio weather.  If you happen to be visiting Jordan, Ontario I’d advise dropping by the winery for a glass on their beautiful patio.
When it comes to sparkling wines, you know my heart belongs to Lighthall Vineyard’s Progression and, well, Champagne, but sometimes you need bubbles at an under-$20 price-point. Cavas Hill Brut 1887 Cava is a good option at around $13. I had this one at an event recently and it was a easy, refreshing sparkler that fit the relaxed vibe of the evening. This is a very appealing choice for brunch mimosas or sparkling cocktails where you want a solid sparkling that won’t break the bank.  One of the pairings that evening was an excellent creme brulee from Sliced Gourmet and I was surprised at just how well the pairing worked – something to keep in mind, as I rarely pair sparkling with dessert. My photos from the event are a little dark, so I’ve borrowed this bottle shot from the site – I hope they don’t mind!

Inception Deep Layered Red is a Shiraz-dominant blend from South Africa that’s bursting with sweet and spicy flavour. This isn’t a subtle wine – it’s a life of the party wine that’s easy drinking, on the sweet side and a lot fun. This is my new guilty pleasure pick – one to pull out for that raucous summer barbeque or a night with friends around the cottage fire. Inception is new to Ontario and launching in Canada before it hits shelves around the rest of the world, expect to see lots of it at the LCBO soon.


One of my favourite summer wines is Vinho Verde – it’s a refreshing white from Portugal that is perfect for a relaxing lunch on the patio. Alianca’s 2012 Vinho Verde is a nice example of the grape. Shawn and I tried this one on a recent movie night and enjoyed the peach and citrus notes on the nose and the refreshing apple on the palate. While this particular Vinho Verde was a little too acidic for my tastes, I highly recommend you check out the varietal over the summer months. I’d like to try this one again with a Mediterranean lunch – I think it would be a much better pairing.

I’ve mentioned Three Dog Winery a number of times on the blog, so you know I’m a fan. Their Doghouse White is a great summer wine. It’s a white blend made from Ontario Vidal and Riesling. It’s crisp and refreshing with balanced acid and nice minerality. This one is great with seafood or spicy foods – two things that make up a big portion of my warm weather menu.


Place in the Sun is a herbaceous red blend from South Africa with, blackberry, currant, anise, green pepper and an earth on the nose.

There’s much more fruit on the palate than I expected, fresh red fruit with some earthiness/smoke to it. Medium-long finish, medium tannin. Very drinkable. This would be a nice pairing with red meat and it was really nice with the 80% Camino dark chocolate I tried it with. The rich, creaminess of the chocolate matches well with the flavour and tannin in the wine.

So those are some of my summer wine choices. What are yours? Feel free to leave them in the comments or share them on my Facebook or Twitter feeds!