Hot August Wines

(written for the Los Altos Town Crier)

Friends are home from trips abroad. Bags of recently purchased school supplies line the entryway. A basket of just-picked tomatoes awaits slicing beside the sink. In summer, we live in our bare feet. The heat of the day is powerful, so we try to stay cool as we anxiously await the evening hours.

It’s the sunsets I most look forward to this time of year – a kaleidoscope of oranges, pinks and lavenders splashed across the horizon. The perfect viewing spot for the sky’s evening show is my back patio, a crisp, cold glass of wine by my side.

When it comes to selecting wines for hot weather, lightness and refreshment are top priorities. Chilled and zippy wines dilute the heat and add to the general loveliness of August in Northern California. There is no shortage of suitable wine choices available at local stores like Draeger’s Market in Los Altos and Zanotto’s in Sunnyvale.

“We’ve taken to calling our well-priced and outstandingly refreshing whites ‘porch pounders,’” said Emmett Welch of Draeger’s. “If you walk through the wine section, you’ll see that we’ve placed a note on these wines, which we’ve deemed to be excellent for drinking on a porch – or anywhere in the heat, for that matter.”

Welch named two wines in particular that he felt were ideal for hot August weather.

His first choice is the 2015 Domitia Picpoul de Pinet ($12.99). Picpoul de Pinet, a French white varietal, definitely fits the easy drinkability requirement of late summer. Once tricky to find locally, Picpoul has become more readily available.

At times, Picpouls can be slightly lackluster. Welch’s recommendation, however, is not. Dry and spritely, the wine has striking minerality and an electrifying burst of fruit. Domitia Picpoul de Pinet represents a fork in the road that I believe wine lovers helplessly devoted to Sauvignon Blanc should take.

Lemelson Vineyard’s 2014 Tikka’s Run Pinot Gris ($16.99) is Welch’s other recommendation. I found this wine from Oregon juicy and bright. On the nose, there was lots of papaya and melon, with subtle and satisfying almond on the palate. I poured this one for friends. We all agreed the wine was just right with the lemony green salad and cold roast chicken I served for dinner.


Zanotto’s stocks its wine department with unique finds. Jeff Cochran, wine steward at the store, shared that his go-to rosé this year is the 2015 Triennes Rosé ($14.99).

“This wine from the South of France is exciting on its own but also ideal for food pairing,” Cochran said. “Gracefully refreshing, Triennes Rosé is a super choice for late-summer drinking.”

Delicate aromatics of strawberry and fresh flowers had me loving the wine before I even tasted it. This is a wine you can drink throughout an entire meal – perhaps one starting with salade nicoise and ending with strawberry ice cream.

Cochran’s other pick to tame August heat is Poderi Parpinello’s 2014 Vermentino di Sardegna Ala Blanca ($18.99).

Vermentino is an Italian white-wine grape grown primarily in Sardinia. The varietal, which has a profile somewhat similar to Sauvignon Blanc, has yet to take hold on American wine-drinkers’ radar. For this reason, you can find wonderful wines at good prices.

“Poderi Parpinello 2014 Vermentino di Sardegna Ala Blanca is made from 100 percent Vermentino grapes grown along the sun-drenched coast of the island of Sardinia,” Cochran said.

He described the Ala Blanca as having lemon rind, honey and hints of sliced orange on the nose.

“Full-bodied, with ripe fruit and a long, flavorful finish, this wine is rich, clean and steely – all favorable attributes for summertime sipping,” he said. “This Vermentino is a squeaky-clean white, and a good value.”

Making fish or chicken tacos on the grill? Enjoying fresh melon wrapped in prosciutto or looking for a wine to go with humus and falafels? Vermentino will be everything you want it to be alongside these foods, and many other hot-weather suppers.

Christine Moore is a Mountain View resident. To read her blog, visit


Popular Posts