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Raise a glass (or an eyebrow) to summer sippers

Taf 585 Critical Drinking 1004

“The best wines are the ones we drink together.” — Anonymous

Miller: I’ve always been fascinated learning about wine—from the journey behind the winemaker to the idea that wine brings people together and connects us to a sense of place. However, I often found myself reaching for what continued to be familiar, and, especially in summer, that meant New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. In fact, I can credit my colleagues for making me a Kim Crawford enthusiast.

When I first met my partner, Jeff, who is a Sommelier at REDD Rochester, I shared that this was one of my go-to wines, and, as Jeff likes to mention, he’ll never forget the look of surprise on my face when he asked me if I knew that Kim was a man. Not only was I shocked that I didn’t know this little fact, but it made me realize I never took the time to learn more about this iconic brand. Kim Crawford will always remain at the top of my list; however, I will always be grateful for how Jeff continues to open my eyes to all the wonderment and aha moments that can come from tasting something new.

Sharra: When it comes to pouring wine this time of year, what often comes to mind (in addition to Sauvignon Blanc) are the beloved Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Riesling—they are crisp, served cold (sometimes too cold!), and white wines are just more refreshing on a hot summer day. When looking for alternative grape varietals from around the world, I love finding wines that often raise an eyebrow with an unexpected smile followed by the question, “why haven’t I ever had this before?”

The following wines are a few of our approachable favorites that we hope will delight you while sipping under the Rochester sun.


M: I remember walking around a local wine shop when Jeff selected a bottle of Albariño, a varietal that he fell in love with when first introduced to it. Turns out, it was a shrug of dismissal for me. I’d tried Albariño on a handful of occasions, but never to my liking. “That’s because you’ve never tried this before,” he told me and then placed a bottle of Licia Albariño in our cart. A few days later, we enjoyed the wine together, and just as he suggested, it delivered in a way that differed from any other I had tried. In this case, I experienced aromas of fresh stone fruits like peaches and apricots with a clean, crisp, and refreshing flavor. I realized two things that day: what draws Jeff to this wine and that I can love Albariño … I just had to open the right bottle.

S: This grape varietal comes from a fishing and farming community in Spain called Rias Baixas that has the knack for producing incredible, mouthwatering wines with tons of character. Albariño has been one of my summertime preferences for years, and when I introduce it to people, their expression of excitement lets me know they have been caught hook, line, and sinker!


M: For centuries, the French have produced some of the most important wines in the world, from Bordeaux, Burgundy, and the Rhône Valley. Yet, I often hear Jeff reference the Loire valley, and there’s one grape varietal we agree is a standout summertime grab to look for while perusing the shelves of your favorite wine shop.

S: A heavy hitter from the Loire valley of France, Vouvray is made from the grape varietal Chenin Blanc. This versatile wine can range from still to sparkling or bonedry to sweet golden nectar. Our favorite lives right in the middle of it all, just as the Loire itself does in France. Champalou Vouvray is a Chenin Blanc that is a beautiful wine with lush fruit notes that borders on being sweet without being a sweet white wine, or what sommeliers call an “off dry” wine. This easy-to-drink wine boasts a bouquet of pear and honeysuckle with ginger and melon.

Tasmania Sparkling Rosé

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention rosé as being the undisputed champion of summertime wine, and we even squeezed in a twist of bubbly along the way. Have you ever thought about looking down under to a wild little island where Tasmanian devils roam free?

S: We were gifted a bottle of Jansz Tasmania sparkling rosé last summer and not only did we find the story behind the wine fun (with roots that come from the famed Champagne house of Louis Roederer, the makers of the very famous Cristal Champagne), but we were taken with the notes of strawberry and cream and refined bubbles that come from the champagne method that is used in the production of the wine playfully dubbed the MéthodeTasmanoise.

M: Made of Pinot Noir, this sparkling rosé sits at a fraction of the cost than you would get in other regions. We enjoy this unexpected bottle so much that we’ve started taking it to family events.

When it comes to enjoying wine, perhaps pop culture icon Ted Lasso said it best when he shared the phrase “be curious, not judgmental.” Let’s raise a glass to times with our family and friends and cheers to all that summertime has to offer!

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