No Way, Rosé: Try These Light Summer Wines Instead of Rosé
These days, a summer wine list without at least one rosé looks practically naked; it’s a testament to the near-unanimous customer expectation of drinking pink all summer long. While there’s a lot to love about this style of wine, rosé is becoming a little too ubiquitous for a lot of sommeliers. And near-total dependence on it means people are missing out on a other world of light wines perfect for summer drinking. You don’t have to 86 rosé from your menu—everyone will happily continue to gulp it by the bottle—but here are a few sommelier-approved light summer wine alternatives to test-drive on your list.
“Salty Vermentino. Whether it's from Corsica, Provence, or Liguria in Northern Italy, coastal Mediterranean Vermentino is my go-to wine for summer. The grape is soft and floral on its own, but when it's planted next to the sea with winds carrying the salt water, it becomes refreshing, lively and full of salinity. It's great on its own, but it shines with raw seafood and summer greens.” —Michelle Biscieglia, Wine Director at Blue Hill NYC in New York
“Riesling! Summer of Riesling isn't a trend; it's a lifestyle. The wines are bright, fresh, fruit driven and aromatic. I love them because they are low in alcohol, which allows for some enjoyable day drinking, and they run the gamut of dry to sweet and can even be found in sparkling form. Speaking of sparkling—jump on the Champagne train! Champagne is another perfect summer sipper; it’s super-refreshing and delicious.” —David Castleberry, Lead Sommelier at RN74 in San Francisco
“On the tail of my recent trip to Greece, the first thought for me is Assyrtiko. The Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko will always bring back memories of that beautiful island. Austere and precise, this wine has some of the most magical minerality. Crisp, and youthful, it really jumps out of the glass.” —Liz Martinez, Sommelier and Beverage Director at The Purple Pig in Chicago
“I wish people were drinking more white Txakoli, a citrusy, frizzante wine from the Basque region in northern Spain. Made from the Getaraiko Txakolina DO and from native varieties Hondarrabi Zuri and Hondarrabi Beltza, it is light, refreshing and more interesting than Vinho Verde. Ulacia and Ameztoi are my favorite producers.” —Sarah Zehner, Sommelier at Westward in Seattle
“At il Buco Alimentari, we offer lighter reds with soft tannins like Gamay from Morgon, along with similar wines from Italy (Ciliegiolo, Bonarda, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Schiava) or French Jura (Poulsard and Trussaeu)—all of which are great in the summer. I've found that guests are really open to trying a lighter red that's been chilled as a substitute for rosé, if they are interested in exploring different options.” —Roberto Paris, Beverage Director at il Buco Alimentari in New York
“One of my favorite styles of summer wine is Vinho Verde. This value-driven Portuguese white wine is typically slightly effervescent, making for palate-cleansing, crisp flavor. Quinta de Azevedo is a single estate wine that is fresh, citrusy, floral, with a bright acid that leaves you wanting another sip.” —Todd Johnston, Beverage Director of City Winery Nashville in Nashville