Wine with Citrus Flavour

The Best Summer Wines for Sipping Outside, According to Southern Sommeliers

By Tamara Gane
May 13, 2021
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Summertime is perfect for backyard get-togethers, barbecues, and basking in the warm sun with a glass of wine in your hand. Not just any old wine will do, however. The best summer wines pair nicely with grilled food, fresh fruit or veggies, and are as refreshing as a gentle breeze on a hot day. To find out which wines are best for summer, we crisscrossed the South to talk to the experts: certified sommeliers who work in the South's best restaurants, hotels, and wine shops. These professionals know wine, but perhaps more importantly, they know the food, culture, and weather of the South.

The sommeliers we consulted recommended a list of wines including refreshing sparklers, tantalizing roses, crisp whites, and even chillable reds. Whether you're looking for a wine to accompany grilled fish, a juicy steaksummer salads, or watermelon pie, this list will help you find the perfect glass of wine to cap off your meal. Best of all, the wines our experts selected come at a variety of price points, with most around $10 a bottle. So get ready to take your summertime sipping to the next level with these amazing summer wines.

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ci casal garcia vinho verde rose
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Casal Garcia Vinho Verde

Dan Davis of Commander's Palace in New Orleans is so immersed in wine that folks simply refer to him as The Wine Guy. He says the effervescent wines of Vinho Verde have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent years. "The spritzy whites are bursting with lemon-lime zing and, in the best examples, a slightly salty seaspray quality makes them a great pairing with shellfish and light summer salads," he explains. "But few realize that there are fantastic rosé and red wines from this sea-facing region at the northern tip of Portugal. If it's hot out–as it always is in the New Orleans summer–then I love to chill a bottle each of white, rosé, and (yes!) red Vinho Verde for poolside sipping. You'll have trouble spending more than $12 on a bottle of even the best." Davis singles out Casal Garcia Vinho Verde as being a bargain, delicious, and extremely easy to find.

BUY IT: $8.49, drizly.com

Pikes Hills and Valleys Riesling 2019
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Pikes Hills and Valleys Riesling

Joe Crosson, beverage director for CAMP, the hotly anticipated forthcoming eatery in Greenville, South Carolina, recommends a riesling for summer. "They're generally very high acid and crisp with notes of apricot, nectarine, honey and petrol," he says. "We are pouring the Pikes Hills and Valleys Riesling from Clare Valley Australia by the glass at Camp. Australian Riesling is under the radar but fully delicious."

BUY IT: $14.59, vivino.com

2019 Viognier Reserve

Pedernales Cellars Viognier Reserve

Denise Clarke of Texas Fine Wine is a self-proclaimed devotee of white wine. She's particularly fond of wines produced right there in Texas. When it comes to great summer wines, she suggests Pedernales Cellars Viognier Reserve. "Viognier certainly makes the list of white wines that do well in Texas. This highly aromatic white has notes of pear, peaches, caramel and lime and is a perennial favorite from this family-owned winery," says Clarke. "Its 2012 Viognier won Gold at the prestigious Concours International de Lyon wine competition, based in the heart of France (home to Viognier)." Viognier pairs well with cheeses such as a goat gouda or a double-cream, soft-ripened cheese, and roast chicken.

BUY IT: $40, pedernalescellars.com

La Gioiosa Prosecco Rosé Millesimato
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La Gioiosa Prosecco Rosè Millesimato 2019

Alessandra Esteves, co-founder and director of wine education for the Florida Wine Academy in Miami, Florida, is particularly excited about a new style of wine. "Prosecco Rose has just launched, and I think it will be a hit this summer," she says. "This one is fresh and fruity with some delicate notes of cherries and strawberries, perfect for Summertime." She recommends La Gioiosa Prosecco Rosè Millesimato 2019.

BUY IT: $12.40, vivino.com

Broadbent Vinho Verde
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Broadbent Vinho Verde

Lydia Kirkoski of Copper Vine in New Orleans recommends Vinho Verde style wines. "During the summer, I look for light bodied, refreshing wines with some tone of flair. Vinho Verde wines have been my most recent bottle of choice," she says. 

The term "Vinho Verde" refers to the Minho region of Portugal where these wines are produced. Vinho Verde, which translates to "green wine," is a landscape of rolling hills home to lush vineyards and historic, family-run wineries. This region produces some of the best value wines in the world, typically well under $20 a bottle.

Balanced tart and supple fruit create the base of the flavor profile, and you can expect ripe flavors of grapefruit, lemon, pear, and melon. These wines are light, crisp, and aromatic. The palates are clean and fresh with soft herbaceous tones. Their delicate effervescence combined with clean and crisp flavors makes wines from Vinho Verde the perfect option for days outside. "Vinho Verde is a great pairing for seafood and lighter vegetable dishes," recommends Kirkoski. "My favorite producer for wines of this style is Broadbent Vinho Verde."

BUY IT: $8.99, wine.com

DAOU Vineyards Rose 2019
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Dau Discovery Rose

Peter DeRosa, assistant food and beverage manager at Havana Beach Bar and Grill at the Pearl Hotel in Rosemary Beach, Florida, recommends Dau Discovery Rose from California's beautiful Central Coast. "Nothing says summer quite like rosé. With notes of watermelon, fresh strawberries, and bing cherries, this is an absolutely lovely wine," says DeRosa. "Made mostly from Grenache, with a touch of Sauvignon Blanc, it is balanced with a beautiful roundness and brightness. It would pair perfectly with some salted watermelon or a delicious Caprese salad." 

BUY IT: $25.99, wine.com

Casa Madero
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Casa Medero V Rosado

Andres Blanco Musico, sommelier and beverage manager at La Table Houston in Houston, Texas, is particularly fond of a great summer wine from Mexico. He recommends Casa Madero V Rosado. "This is a great Rose wine from Mexico. It comes from the oldest winery in the continent which has been in operation since 1597. It's made with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and has a full-body texture and the ripe flavors of strawberries, raspberries, and rose petals. It's fruity and can be enjoyed by itself or paired with red berries and cured salmon appetizers by the pool."

BUY IT: $10.99, vivino.com

Reichsrat von Buhl Bone Dry Rosé 2018
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Reichsrat von Buhl Bone Dry Rose

Bill Harris, wine director at The Inn at Little Washington in Washington, Virginia, takes us all the way to Germany with his recommendation of Reichsrat von Buhl Bone Dry Rose from Pfalz. "We love our Provencal roses but this wine, a rose of Pinot Noir from Germany, really caught our attention," says Harris. "It's very dry with bracing acidity that is mediated by the concentrated and complex fruit flavors of cherry and berry. Succulent and exceptionally refreshing, it's like summer in a bottle."

BUY IT: $14.59, vivino.com

Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc
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Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc

JR Rodriguez, hotel manager of The Plaza Hotel Pioneer Park in El Paso, Texas, is keen on Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. "A great Sauvignon Blanc is one of my top choices for summer. I particularly love the Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand for its crispness and citrus-forward flavor profile," he says. "This wine is great for outdoor entertaining and can be paired with soft cheese like burrata, mozzarella, and crème fraîche." 

BUY IT: $14.99, vivino.com

French Pool Toy Rosé
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French Pool Toy Rose

Stacey C Land, vice president of cultural leadership and education for 1618 Concepts in Greensboro, North Carolina, chose a delicious wine with a playful label. "White wines with a healthy kick of acidity keep my mouth watering and pair perfectly with the crisp salads of vegetables fresh from the garden in the summer," says Land. "French Pool Toy makes a Piquepoul in the best package, an unbreakable wine bottle perfect for drinking poolside. It's bright and summery with a fresh squeeze of citrus and a hint of floral on the nose. This Vin de France brings the best of coastal France to your lips."

BUY IT: $16, drizly.com

Bodegas Beronia Crianza 2017
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Bodegas Beronia Crianza

Kevin Smith, food and beverage manager at the historic Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club in St. Petersburg, Florida, is all about a certain red blend. "My favorite wine for summer is the red blend Bodegas  Beronia Crianza from Rioja, Spain," he recommends. "It is a velvety, full-bodied blend, though majority Tempranillo, and features mouthwatering wild berry flavors with hints of vanilla. It also has an ever-so-subtle smokey aroma that pairs well with summer barbecue favorites like hamburgers, mac and cheese, pulled pork and barbecue ribs." 

BUY IT: $18.99, wine.com

Pascal Jolivet Sancerre 2019
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Pascal Jolivet Sancerre

Jared Lorenz and Trevor Waldrop from Old Edwards Inn & Spa in Highlands, North Carolina, put their heads together to recommend Pascal Jolivet Sancerre. "Located in Central France on the banks of the Loire River, Sancerre is a serene little town known for producing some of the world's cleanest and most crystalline Sauvignon Blanc," they say. "This wine is exploding with lemon and lime and packs plenty of fresh acidity and mineral-tinged sharpness. Pair with oysters, creamy cheeses, fish and chips, or even a lobster roll."

BUY IT: $32.99, wine.com

Rogue Vine Grand Itata Tinto
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Rogue Vine Grand Itata Tinto

Eric Berumen of The Market at Commonplace in Oklahoma City says Rogue Vine Grand Itata Tinto is one of his summertime faves. "This chillable summer red is made from 60-year-old vines in the subregion Guarilihue in the Itata Valley, Chili, ten miles from the Pacific Ocean," he explains. "I don't drink a lot of reds in the summer but this one is delightful. With notes of raspberry, strawberry, rose petals, and earth as well as light tannins and good acidity, it's wonderful with grilled vegetables, roast meats, or Thai curry. It's a perfect summer picnic wine."

BUY IT: $20.99, vivino.com