This is the time of year that requires wines that are lighter, whether red or white, and that can be served cool or sometimes colder — even with an ice cube or two. In other words, porch wines, which are perfectly suited for summertime sipping, whether you’re on a shaded porch or indoors, with the air conditioning on and glad you’re not on the porch.
Porch wines don’t have the big alcohol or tannins (that puckery feeling in the back of the mouth) that heavier wines do. In this, they’re more refreshing and don’t make you feel even more uncomfortable than the heat already does. Doubt that premise? Then taste one of the ones suggested below, and then taste a cabernet sauvignon with 14.5 percent alcohol. You’ll be amazed at the difference.
• Grocery store pinot noirs that cost about $10, such as Mark West from California or the Chilean Cono Sur Bicicleta, are soft, fruity red wines with lower alcohol, and chilling them a little doesn’t ruin them either.
• Italian producers churn out millions and millions of cases of cheap pinot grigio, most of indifferent quality. But some are more than that, including Bollini ($10). Pepi ($8), from California, also is a fine value.
• Vinho verde means green wine in Portuguese, and these wines have a greenish tint (and a little fizz, too). Most are $8 or less, with low alcohol and sweetish green apple fruit. This year, the Sonalto was one of the best, and you may also see it labeled Santola (made by the same producer, but for a different retailer).
with your wine
Serves four, takes about 20 minutes
Chickpeas, also called garbanzos, are one of those things that much of the world loves (hummus, falafel) but aren’t as popular here. These are light and easy to make, and they’re a nice change from burgers or hot dogs on a hot August evening. Serve on buns or in pitas. A vinho verde would pair quite well.
2 cups cooked chickpeas (well drained if canned)
4 green onions, trimmed and sliced
2 tablespoons flour
3-4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 clove chopped garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1. Place chickpeas, green onions, egg, flour, cilantro, garlic, cumin, and salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides, until a coarse mixture forms that holds together when pressed. It will be moist, but workable. Form into four patties.
2. In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add patties and cook until golden and beginning to crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully flip and cook until golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes more.
Ask the wine guy
What does it mean when a wine is hot?
That the alcohol is not in balance with the fruit, acid and other parts of the wine. Both red and whites can be hot; you’ll notice an unpleasant feeling in the back of your mouth or even in your nose.
ASK THE WINE GUY