Summer’s heat calls for crisp, light, refreshing wines to revive us and prepare our palates for the meal to come. Portugal’s vinho verde does just that, with relatively low alcohol, high acidity and zippy effervescence. Riesling follows for a light meal or first course, and then, when the big hunk of meat comes off the grill, it’s time for a bold red. We have all three here this week.
Costa do Sol Vinho Verde NV
Vinho verde has become Portugal’s best contribution to summer since the Port Tonic cocktail. These light, citrusy wines come with a slight carbonation that make them extra refreshing. The Costa do Sol actually leans more toward an apricot orchard than a citrus grove, which gives it a satisfying fullness on the palate. The fizz is more subtle than with most vinhos verde. Extremely gulpable. Alcohol by volume: 10.5 percent. Bottle weight: 425 grams (Light).
Red Newt Cellars Dry Riesling 2017
Finger Lakes, N.Y., $22
Here’s another fine dry riesling from Upstate New York. Red Newt is on the east side of Seneca Lake, the longest and deepest of the Finger Lakes. Flavors of nectarine and apricot lend opulence and texture, while a smoky mineral note adds structure and balance. ABV: 12.6. BW: 445 grams (Light).
Maldonado Proprietary Red Wine 2018
Napa Valley, Calif., $50
Hugo Maldonado was one of the Mexican American vineyard workers-turned-winery owners honored by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in 2017. His Proprietary Red is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah from vineyards in the northern end of Napa Valley near Calistoga. It is plush and mouth filling, with flavors of blackberries, currants and baking spice, and soft tannins to carry through to a long finish. I recommend keeping this wine cool and decanting it for an hour or two before serving with a hearty meat dish. Or stretch it over a couple evenings to see how it develops. ABV: 14.8 percent. BW: 685 grams (Average).