A stroll along the beach yesterday in bright but windy conditions brought to mind the change in seasons. While not quite summer and not quite beach weather, the sand was nonetheless dotted with semi-naked people clad in swimmers (bathers for you Melbourne folk) determined to get an early jump in the Australian Cancer Council Tanning Stakes. Crazy! I thought. Crazy that I forgot how desperate the population is to celebrate the end of winter regardless of the conditions.
The thinking seems to be, if I am slathered in sunscreen and caked in sea salt it must be summer. Hard to argue with that kind of Trumpian logic.
It follows the same people are likely to behave summerly even when not at the beach, to assist in perpetuating their summer myth until it blossoms into a genuine reality. And that means their choice of tipple will also reflect their altered perspective.
Now that’s a lie I can get on board with. I'm happy to shake a salt cruet over my wet skin if it means I can follow it with a glass of crisp Fiano (all of a sudden, the old-school salt/tequila/lemon slammer makes sense. It creates the impression of an eternal summer).
Before making it home I had composed a mental list of summer drinking, recalling wines and varietals whose mere presence in my fridge made it feel sunny outside.
I’ve already mentioned Fiano. Because I’m in love with it. Exotic fruits, honey, a gentle tartness and hints of savoury spice make it a wonderful warm weather drink. Originally from Italy, Fiano vines have become more prominent in the warmer regions of Australia and several beautiful examples are readily available. And the acid means they can stand a bit of cellaring which will bring out the richness and nuttiness of the wine.
We can talk about Riesling but why bother? It is awesome. You should drink more of it. If you do not already understand this, there’s not much hope for you so let’s move on.
The Italians have an over-abundance of great summer drinking varietals. Vermentino from Sardinia with its lemon tang, also called Favorita when made in Piemonte where the cooler climate produces a more savoury version. You should also try Trebbiano and Garganega and Pecorino (yes, like the cheese but not cheesy at all).
It is no surprise Mediterranean countries have worked out the best wines for consumption in sunshine. Giving Southern Italy a run for its money is Spain. Two varieties in particular, Albarino and Viura, produce light, lifted, refreshing white wines that reek of afternoons spent in shady Spanish courtyards. Imagine an impressionist painting, Still Life with Fruit Bowl and Discarded Hemingway Novel (I know it’s an anachronism, please don’t send me any emails).
Viura in Rioja, also called Macabeo in vineyards south of Barcelona, delivers stone fruits and a gentle acidity while Alabrino is more akin to a Spanish Sauvignon Blanc with juicy exotic fruits and enough zing to startle a bull.
If the weather in your part of the world hasn’t quite got you inflating pool toys and showering outside don’t despair. Simply turn the heating up, smear a little salted sunscreen under your nostrils for that beachy aroma and twist the top off a bottle of chilled white wine. The truth will catch up with the myth in no time at all.