Summer Memories of Sunshiny Sippers (#WinePW)

Wine selections to pair with summer fun and fabulous memories.

Sunny, summer days require particular wines. Moreover, the criteria that go into selecting wines for easy, breezy days whether they’re spent by the water, picnicking, or on an outdoor adventure, are very different than what’s needed at other times of the year. I take this selection very seriously, and criteria number one is that the wine has to be fun! 

Certain types of wines just naturally step into the role of a party starter. Bubblies, crisp whites, and chillable reds call to me and say “hey, let’s have a good time!” Packaging and closures also play more of a role at this time of year than at any other. I want it to be as easy as possible to get at that vino, so screw caps, bottle caps, and portable packaging like cans are extra desirable. If a wine can combine elements from both of these camps, well, there’s a summertime winner!

Today, I’m rounding up five favorite summertime wines that combine some of these attributes, plus a bonus extra, to inspire more good times. All of these have wonderful memories attached to them, which of course, makes me love them even more. 

I will note that in the Bay Area, “summer” kind of pops in and out throughout the year, not always in the actual summer, and definitely stretching way into the fall, so the memories shared here kind of take that looser interpretation of the season. 

Sparkling Wine + Bottle Cap: Carboniste Sparkling Pinot Noir and Albariño

Price: Both $28

Carboniste makes some of my very favorite “happy day” wines. Dan and Jacqueline Person are the husband and wife team behind Carboniste, and they bring a fresh perspective to sparkling winemaking. As described on their website, they “are dedicated to making sparkling wines that are modern and reflective of grape and place.” Most of their bubblies are made in the traditional method, but they want the quality of the fruit to take center stage rather than the toasty notes that come from autolysis. 

This is even more true for their “critter line.” In the case of their Octopus Sparkling Albariño and Sea Urchin Sparkling Rosé of Pinot Noir, the wines are made in the traditional method, but they only spend a few months on the lees after being bottled (4 months and 2 months respectively), so that what you’re tasting is really bright fruit. Don’t get me wrong, I love the toasty notes in other traditional method sparkling wines, but these wines are just so likable and full of personality. They’re both dry and crisp but are also bursting with fruit. In the case of the Pinot, it’s cherries, strawberries, guava, and watermelon rind, while the Albraiño tastes of peaches, lemon, and sea spray. It’s a sunny day at the beach in a bottle.  

If you invite me to a pool party in the summertime, there’s a very good chance that I will show up with one of their bottles. They were with me at two of the funnest pool parties I’ve been to in recent years. The rosé came with me to a pool day a group of my girlfriends planned for my 40th birthday, and the Albariño came along to a pool weekend getaway we had with several couples that was full of giggle fits.

Carboniste’s bottles are also under crown bottle caps, so it takes all of about 5 seconds to get at that tasty juice.

Additional details for the Pinot Noir here and for the Albariño here.

As another alternative, Pét Nats  also fit bill quite nicely.

Crisp White + Screw Cap: Nortico Alvarinho

Average Price: $15 

I love an impromptu dinner party. A pool day that magically turns into a dinner party is even better. Last summer, Greg’s brother Dave and his wife Julia were staying at a house with a pool and they invited us over to hang out for the day. Once the sun started to go down, we all drifted inside to make dinner. The last thing you want to do in a situation like this is to deal with a fussy, complicated meal. You want it to be fresh, delicious, and easy. I set about making a Caprese salad while Dave made a delicious and incredibly simple shrimp dish, and we grilled some bread to accompany it all. So delicious, so easy. You’ll find a non-recipe for the shrimp at the bottom. 

The food and the occasion were all calling for a crisp white wine to pair alongside, so I cracked open a bottle of Nortico Alvarinho Minho 2019 from Portugal. It’s basically a Vinho Verde (which covers the same territory as the DOC of Minho), but I suspect the production method put it outside Vinho Verde regulations. For one, this wine is completely still and has no added CO2, which is often the case for other Vinho Verdes. The goal here is to achieve and richer style, although the wine is still very crisp and bright, full of notes of peaches and citrus. It’s 100% Alvarinho – and as you might guess, Alvarinho/Albariño is one of my favorite summer grapes. 

It was perfect with our dinner, but for more pairing ideas, the winery gives the following additional recommendations: “Have it simply with corn bread and butter like country folks do in Portugal. Also a terrific seafood wine, particularly with salty, fattier dishes like fish tacos or broiled oysters.” All perfect summer fare.

The grapes are sustainably grown and you can find additional details here

Find more related to Albariño here and here, and Vinho Verde here. Txakolina and Riesling are two more summer favorites. 

Rosé + Screw Cap: August Kessler Rosé 

Average Price: $20 (Sample)

I’m not sure it’s possible to get through the summer without rosé. Can you even call it summer if there is no rosé? I make no bones about the fact that I love rosés in many styles and from around the world.  I find that versions from Austria and Germany, like this August Kessler Pinot Noir Rosé Rheingau 2018, often have a little extra bouncy, bright quality to the fruit. This one had notes of strawberries, cherries, and a touch of peach. Bonus, screw cap for easy opening is par for the course with a lot if not most rosés from these countries. 

I enjoyed this one while sprawled out on the lawn gabbing with girlfriends on the lawn at the Culinary Cabin at Lake Tahoe. 

Find additional details on the wine here

For just a few of my many rosé-related posts, check out:

Chillable Red: Tessier Winery Soul Love 

Price: $30

I’ve shared wines made by friend Kristie Tacey of Tessier Winery before (read my interview with her here), and I love her wines in general, but in the last few years she’s added a small collection of what I lovingly like to refer to as “trippy wines” and I LOVE these. Her chillable red Soul Love is one of the trippiest and has been one of my very favorites since she started making it three years ago. The blend changes a little bit every year. The 2020 vintage pictured above was a blend of Riesling, Trousseau, and Mourvedre, while the 2021 is made up of Riesling, Mourtaou (aka Cabernet Pfeffer) and Merlot. As the blend changes, the flavors change as well, and it’s always a bit hard to describe, but let’s go with a super chuggable, magical fruit punch of strawberries, guava, berries, flowers, a hint of pineapple, and citrus fruits. (The 2021 also has a bit more tannic grip on the finish.)

This is another “happy day” wine for me that I’ll reach for during fun times or when we’re just hanging out and I happen to be in a particularly good mood. It pairs pretty easily with lots of foods. I’ve had it match easily with a roasted chicken topped with everything from a slightly sweet soy-chili glaze, bool kogi beef, pizza, and it’s even not half bad with buffalo chicken wings – not an easy food to pair. 

Chillable reds are pretty great that way. They pair with a lot of foods you really want a red wine with, but without all the heaviness that goes with a big red wine. I don’t know about you, but I typically just can’t stomach a big, alcoholic red when I’m standing around in the sun.  There are a lot of grapes that generally can take a light chill – Gamay, for example – but nowadays you can also find lots of great examples from winemakers deliberately making wines for this purpose. A lot of times, they’re crazy blends like this one, or sometimes they’re single-variety wines made in a style that sits between rosé and typical versions they might make from that grape.

On her website, she describes it as her  “glou glou” wine (it is!) and  “is a tribute to David Bowie and the ideal picnic wine.”

All of Kristie’s wines are vegan, made from sustainably grown grapes, and natural. More info here.

My friend Adriana and I recently helped pour at one of Kristie's release parties at a rooftop venue here in Oakland. The "trippy" wines were center stage and tasting fabulous.

For more chillable reds, check out:

Cans: Maker Wines 

Prices Vary.

It’s really hard to beat a canned wine for portability and convenience. They’re also perfect to pack out for a stealthy drink, when you don’t want to open a whole bottle, and/or when you don’t want to deal with glass. It’s lucky that there are more and more producers making quality versions. And then there are some trying to take it to the next level. Enter Maker Wines. This female-run company has a great mission: 

We started Maker to offer premium wine sans the snobbery. To highlight interesting varietals crafted by award-winning small producers. To tell the story of the producer that hand crafted your wine. And to package up “wine for one” in earth-conscious cans. Because we believe high-end wine isn’t just for the wealthy, distribution shouldn’t just be for the big guys, and great stories—like great wines—are meant to be shared.

Basically, they partner with quality small producers and package their wines in sleek cans,  and tell their stories via their website and info provided packaged with the wines. Even better, a lot of the wines are made from sustainably farmed grapes and/or are made by women, LGBTQ, or minority winemakers, and the info is clearly listed on the website.  The rosé pictured, which had notes of cherries, tangerines, and flowers, and the Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc – which I really enjoyed, but isn’t pictured –  were made by Chris Christensen of Bodkin. The Chenin Blanc, which had notes of white peaches, honeysuckle, and lemons is made by Colleen Sullivan Clothier of Revolutions Wines. 

We enjoyed these cans of their Rosé and their Chenin Blanc on a walk while taking in an AMAZING sunset while staying just outside Joshua Tree.

Find more on canned wines here and here.

Bonus Round: Mommenpop Blood Orange Spritz!

I brought back a spritz’n habit from our trip to Italy a few years ago. Thoughts of enjoying them on various piazzas at sunset around the country are among my favorite memories of our trip. I still continue to drink them throughout the summer. It’s fun to give them a twist by playing with different vermouths and bitter aperitifs. I love the Mommenpop line of aperitifs made by Samantha Sheehan, the winemaker of Poe and Ultraviolet (I recommend both),  and her husband designer Michael McDermott. They use a lot less sugar than most versions you’ll see out there and they don’t add any dyes. My favorite is the Blood Orange, but they’re all really delicious. 

We drank these with Dave and Julia by the pool on the same day the Nortico Alvarinho up at the top.

Cheers to a happy summer!  



The rest of the Wine Pairing Weekend Blogging Group (#WinePW) is exploring summer sippers this month. Check out the rest of their posts: 



  1. As always your pairings sound so delicious! I would love to get my hands on those Carboniste wines - especially the Albarino. I don't think I've ever had a sparkling Albarino.

    1. I definitely recommend looking for sparkling Alabriño. I've also had one or two from Rias Baixas and they were also delicious!

  2. Now my mouth is watering for crisp Albariño or Alvarinho. If readers can't find their own summer thirst quenchers here, they don't know where to look!

  3. Love this non-recipe recipe! Just what we want in the summer-- although here on the coast it's as often cold and breezy or foggy at dinner time! Great selection of wines too!

    1. I absolutely feel you on the cold summer nights. Summer kind of comes in an out up here in the Bay Area. Seasons don't always happen in order.


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