Trending now at LCBO: Crisper, Lighter wines perfectly match the heat and iconic summer foods
This is the last of LCBO's four-part series on this summer's trends in beverage alcohol – what people are drinking, and why. Other releases this week include: Tuesday – Coolers and ready-to-drink, Wednesday – Ontario cider and craft beer, Thursday – "Spirited" summer cocktails.
TORONTO, July 18, 2014 With warm temperatures finally here in Ontario, consumer preference is again shifting to lighter, crisper and fruitier wines, which perfectly match seasonal foods and the mood of hot days and outdoor entertaining.
Both LCBO and Vintages, LCBO's premium wine division, traditionally see a brisk increase in sales of several key varietals from May to mid-September. Overall, summer wine sales represent approximately 39 per cent of total wine purchases each year.
White wines are particularly strong sellers throughout the summer months. Pinot Grigio is an iconic summer wine since its cleaner, fruitier taste isn't weighed down by wood contact from oak aging. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc also fits the bill: a crisp, acidic and very aromatic wine with a more citric-style fruit flavour. For those who prefer less alcohol on a hot day, the LCBO recommends German whites from regions like the Mosel which tend to have a lower alcohol content but more residual sugar.
Light-bodied reds are also perfect for summer drinking, and pair well with classic barbeque foods such as hamburgers, ribs and steaks. When served "cool," French Beaujolais and Gamay wines (Beaujolais-style from countries other than France) produce enhanced flavours. Italian Valpolicella, a light bodied red from Verona, can also be served chilled. Red wine drinkers who want something a bit lighter in the hot weather should look to Burgundian or a New Zealand Pinot Noir. And although not typically a lighter red, California Zinfandels are full-flavored enough to complement savory barbeque foods, but are slightly softer and rounder.
Rosé has been dubbed "a summer wine for a red wine drinker". It is lighter in taste and colour than reds since it contains fewer tannins owing to reduced grape skin contact and the fact that it is not aged in wood. As a result, summertime sales of rosé at LCBO soar to almost 45 per cent of annual sales.
LCBO showcases Ontario VQA wines, which are "classically cool climate", meaning that the wines produced here tend to be more aromatic and lighter-bodied than those from warm climate regions. People find VQA wines ideal for sipping on a hot summer day or pairing with classic summer foods. More than 35 per cent of Ontario VQA whites are sold at LCBO and Vintages in the summer months, while VQA reds – which many assume to be more suited to cold weather – are enjoyed just as much in the summer as the winter.
Other home-grown summer favourites include Rieslings. Because they love a cool climate and limestone soils, of which Ontario has an abundance, Ontario Rieslings are bright and fresh with great minerality. Chardonnay is one of the signature grape varietals of Ontario. An exceptionally versatile variety, Chardonnay makes wines in all sorts of styles, from big, warm and buttery to edgy, crisp and focused. Baco Noir, a deeply coloured, full-bodied red varietal, is distinctly Ontario and boasts dark fruit flavours such as plum and blueberry. Another signature varietal of Ontario's cool climate region is Pinot Noir, which tends to be light and fruity with flavours of cherry, strawberry and fine tannins and also appeals to summer tasting.
Summer also sees a resurgence in the popularity of fresh, palate-cleansing sparkling wines. The LCBO features many good quality sparkling wines from Spain (Cava), Italy (Procecco) and Germany (Sekt) available for under $15, which means they can be enjoyed year-round and not just saved for special occasions or the holiday season. Italian Moscato is a great choice in this category when looking for low alcohol content (generally five to six per cent alcohol).
A wide variety of summer wines are available in Tetra Pak, whose lightweight format makes them ideal for summer get-away activities.
Remember to be a responsible host this summer:
- Don't plan physical activities when you're serving alcohol. People are more prone to accidents and injury when drinking.
- Provide low-alcohol and alcohol-free drinks for all guests, such as Mocktails, non-alcoholic punch, pop, water, tea and coffee.
- Have food available to avoid drinking on an empty stomach. Avoid serving salty, sweet or greasy snack foods. High-starch and protein foods such as meats, veggies, cheeses, dips and breads are good choices.
- Promote the use of designated drivers and keep cash and phone numbers on hand for taxis. Be prepared for overnight guests.
- Please bring a reusable bag when shopping at the LCBO and take your empty beverage alcohol containers (large and small glass bottles, PET plastic, Tetra Pak cartons, bag-in-box and cans) to The Beer Store for a full deposit refund.
Image with caption: "CRISPER, LIGHTER WINES PERFECTLY MATCH ICONIC SUMMER FOODS (CNW Group/LCBO)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20140718_C2962_PHOTO_EN_4358.email@example.com