A true sign of summer is the opening of the patio. It signals our ability to wine and dine in the great outdoors, and frees us from being cooped up and ready for a diagnosis of cabin fever. As the sunny days grow longer and our affinity for fresh air is realized with BBQ parties and poolside relaxation, it is time to decide what you drink of summer will be.
Living in Niagara we are privy to some exceptional wines, and amongst our most notable is Riesling. The Riesling grape is best known for its German roots where the wine language is complex and the wine is stereotypically sweet. These stereotypes are not indicative of the actual wine, and in Niagara our Rieslings vary from very sweet to very dry. Check out my picks for easy drinking summer patio wines that are sure to give major flavour impact on the palate and pair well with your outdoor gastro endeavours!
Ravine Vineyard, St. Davids, ON
This is a Riesling for the lover of wine who prefers things slightly sweet. It features a beautifully bright introduction to the palate and dancing across your tongue with what feels like a slight effervescence, brought to you by a racy acidity. Pair this wine with lunch for its excellent compliment to salads and seafood. Find notes of peach, citrus, and a nice round indication of the true Niagara Riesling flavour.
$17.95 per bottle, available at the winery and the LCBO
Featherstone Winery, Vineland, ON
First, the name is one that deserves some explanation. The Black Sheep Riesling is a tribute to the sheep that spend their days eating the leaves from the fruit bearing part of the vine in order to maximize sun exposure. Of course, they do contribute to natural fertilization techniques as well… if you’re out in Vineland, the Featherstone patio has an exceptional vantage point and if you catch the sheep on a working day there is something really therapeutic and beautiful about soaking up the calm and watching the animals at work.
Now, about the wine. I have decided to take you through the spectrum of sweet. So starting with Ravine at a fairly sweet example, we have Featherstone’s wine which is slightly less sweet. This wine will offer a more notable acidity, creating that mouth watering pucker in the sides of your cheeks. That is what I look for in a great Reisling. These particular example screams of green apple on the palate and that flavour with the bright acidity makes this a winner in my books. Try this wine with a white pizza, a pasta dish with a hint of cream or a medium cheese (think Upper Canada Cheese Company’s Niagara Gold).
$16.95 per bottle, available at the winery and the LCBO
Cave Springs, Jordan, ON
Having celebrated their 25th anniversary of Riesling production in Niagara, Cave Springs has a good thing going. They offer several impressive Rieslings in their portfolio at excellent price points, but this Dolomite Riesling is the one that I keep going back for. It is named for the dolomite limestone that is layers deep in the Niagara Escarpment. The first thing that comes to mind when tasting this wine is minerality. In the wine world the term terroir is used to indicate the flavours in a wine that give it a sense of place. You can taste where the wine comes from. This Riesling is an excellent example of how the limestone rich soils can directly impact the flavour in the bottle. Enjoy this Riesling with asian spices (not too hot) in a perfectly prepared Pad Thai, or throw together a light summer pasta topped with olive oil and local asparagus!
$16.95 per bottle, available at the winery exclusively.
With these bottles in your arsenal, you will be sure to impress your patio guests this summer. As with all wine regions, these wines will compliment local flavours. Support your local farmers and wineries, the results will be endless delicious pleasure!