This is the time of the year when, fortunately, my diet improves slightly. Not because of any concrete goal or greater plan, but because a few of my all-time favorite foods are warm weather friendly as are the wines best served alongside them. In Florida, where summer lasts ten months a year, you really get good at cramming all the cooler weather foods and wines into a short season, usually the holidays (that’s when I drag out all the older, bigger reds and the foods that pair up well with them).
Then I typically lighten things up a bit for the seasons we call fall and spring – lighter reds usually means lighter foods! But when it drops way down to the low 80s at night we know it’s summer which means it’s time for the best of summer cuisine.
A few dishes I honestly wait all year to prepare, as soon as the heat arrives, are tapenades… fresh salads and simple seafood. Tapenade is easy, garlicky and just so happens to be a perfect match with one of my all-time favorite wines, Provence Rosé. Any recipe will work fine, unless garlic is NOT one of the ingredients.
Oysters are seasonal, and although you can find them with regularity, I don’t buy them unless it is hot enough out to warrant a tall, cool glass of Muscadet. There is good reason this is a classic pairing but only by grabbing a dozen fresh and a bottle can you understand the enjoyment! I do love many different salads all year round, but one in particular somehow just works better in the blazing heat; maybe it’s the wine, not the salad? Simply slice some baguette on the bias, give it a quick toast and top it with Chevre let it melt a bit and top off your salad with it. I usually do mixed greens with egg, bacon bits and a simple dressing I make at home using olive oil, lemon, mustard and salt. A good Sauvignon Blanc, especially Sancerre, is lovely!
Shayne Hebert, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits Wine & Spirits Supervisor
Follow me on Twitter @abcwineShayne