Fâmega vinho verde ($7) Portugal
Texas summers are so annoyingly hot that even people who have lived here all their lives never get quite used to it. Right about now, most of us are looking at the thermometer, checking the calendar, and trying to figure out when the first cool day will get here.
Which means it’s time for porch wines. These are lighter wines, red and white, that can be served cool — or even colder — and offer relief from the heat. Typically, they’re lower in alcohol, are crisp and fresh tasting, and can even be sweet. Plus, they won’t turn to mush if you add an ice cube.
These wines will get any porch sipping started:
• Miquel Pons Cava Brut Nature ($16): This Spanish sparkling wine was made for the North Texas summer. It’s soft and generous, with sweet lemon fruit and bubbles that won’t quit. It’s a touch sweeter than most bruts (which means dry), but that’s not a problem.
• Louis Tête Beaujolais-Villages ($10): A French red with just enough grapey flavor so that you can tell it’s from Beaujolais, but also lots and lots of character. Had acid and freshness, rare for a Beaujolais, as well as an earthiness and even some dark fruit. The quintessential porch red.
• Vinho Verde ($6 to $8): Vinho verde means green wine in Portuguese, and yes, there is a green tint to it (and even a little fizz). But it’s made for hot weather, with low alcohol and sweetish green apple fruit, and it doesn’t require tasting panels or long discussions. You’ll see many different producers, but the wine tastes mostly the same regardless (and can often be the same wine with a different label).
Not your usual black bean and corn salad
This dish’s poor reputation is due to canned vegetables and their lack of flavor. Fortunately, there are ways around that, even if you have to use canned black beans. Use thawed frozen corn if you don’t have fresh, and cherry tomatoes are a vast improvement over the usual grocery store stuff. Serve as part of any picnic with your favorite porch wine.
2 c cooked black beans (well-drained if canned)
1 c corn kernels
1 c cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
3-4 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1/4 c diced red onion
1 jalapeño, finely chopped
3-4 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
cumin, coriander, salt and pepper to taste
1. Combine the black beans and corn, and microwave for 30 seconds or so to heat up.
2. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
Serves four as a side dish; takes about 15 minutes
Ask the wine guy
Q: How many grapes does it take to make a bottle of wine?
A: About 2 1/2 pounds, which works out to .00025 of an acre.
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