As much as we love a decadent Nebbiolo or velvety Cabernet, when summer rolls around these heavy, heady wines can feel like a wool sweater on a hot day. Fortunately, there is no shortage of warm weather-friendly wines to suit any occasion. 


Whether a customer prefers reds or whites, there are four key characteristics to look for when recommending the perfect bottle of summer wine:


• Medium-to-high acidity

• Light-to-medium bodied

• Low tannins

• Lower ABV


We could go on for pages and pages about each of these characteristics; how they work, why they matter, etc. But for the purposes of the average customer, helping them understand the basics will more than suffice. High acidity is what creates the mouth-watering, crisp taste that makes certain varieties so refreshing during the warmer months. Low tannins mean no dry-mouth, sandpaper tongue feeling; and light-bodied wines with lower ABV (think 12% or less) make for easy sipping that won’t weigh the drinker down (or put them to sleep). 


With this in mind, let’s get into some specific recommendations that check all the boxes for a great summer sipper.


Sparkling Wines


Nothing says summer celebration quite like bubbles! And since the sparkling wine category has seen significant growth in recent years (sales were up 13% in 2021 according to Nielsen) there are options to suit every taste and budget. 


Italy’s Prosecco is one of the most recognizable (and popular) styles, and a reliable, affordable crowd-pleaser. For bubble-lovers on a budget, the Spanish sparkler, Cava, is a fantastic option that deserves more recognition. If French grapes are preferred, Crémant fits the bill. If a customer is looking to stay domestic, Oregon, New York, and Michigan all have become hot spots for sparkling wine production and offer a nice change of pace from the usual California fare.  



White Wines


When it comes to whites, the first thing most people think of is Chardonnay. And don’t get us wrong, Chardonnay works well for any season or occasion (although unoaked is preferable for the summer). That said, there are plenty of other delicious options available that will hit the spot when the sun is strong. 


Sauvignon Blanc is a summer staple, with its special blend of tropical fruit flavors, minerality, and grassy notes. Those from Sancerre, France and Marlborough, New Zealand are generally regarded as the “best in class,” although high-quality options can be found at a range of price points from Chile, South Africa, and the northern California coast. 

Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris perfect with vinegary foods and seafood. Grapes from Northern Italy, Oregon, and Alsace set the bar for the category. 

Albariño is an aromatic, fruity, easy-drinking Spanish white that is accessible, affordable, and perfect for afternoons on the beach or by the pool.

Grüner Veltliner is Austria’s answer to Sauvignon Blanc. The country’s signature grape features flavors of lime, lemon, grapefruit, and white pepper, with a unique acidity that leaves a tingly aftertaste. 

Carricante is a distinctive white grape native to Sicily’s volcanic Mt. Etna. While similar to dry Riesling (which is also a great summer wine), Carricante offers a unique savory quality, with notes of citrus, blossom, saline, and an almost flinty minerality.  




Rosé is often called the Goldilocks of wine, and for good reason. A high-quality rosé pairs well with everything from salty snacks to burgers and BBQ. (Plus, drinking pink is just plain fun.) Because “rosé” is something of a blanket categorization, the type of wine that ends up with the label can vary significantly, depending on where and how it’s produced. 

A few things to keep in mind when making rosé recommendations: 

• Origin: France, Italy, Northern Spain, and California offer excellent selections 

• Alcohol content: above 13% is too high for hot weather

• Color: lighter and paler = fruity and citrus; darker shades = strawberries and red fruits 

Whichever bottle your customer lands on, the crisp acidity, airy lightness, and beautiful blush color make a well-crafted rosé tough to beat on a hot day.


Red Wines


Just because temperatures are high doesn’t mean red wine lovers have to give up their grape of choice. There are more lighter-bodied, versatile reds widely available in the United States than ever before. Naturally, Pinot Noir is always a great place to start, with its fruity, earthy flavor profile and juicy complexity packed into a light, easygoing package. Good examples can be had from myriad regions around the world, including France, Germany, Italy, California and Oregon in the U.S., New Zealand, and Australia. 


For those looking to expand their red wine repertoire, other recommendations for summer include: 


Beaujolais: soft, fruity, and versatile, this French red is made from the Gamay grape and features flavors of cherry and strawberry. Beaujolais-Villages is the most readily available appellation in the U.S. market, with the best quality options coming from from one of the ten villages known as Cru Beaujolais.

Barbera: an unsung hero from northern Italy, Barbera is an incredibly versatile, easy-drinking red that is extremely affordable, too. Its dark fruit flavors, high acidity, and surprisingly meaty complexity means it pairs well with a wide range of foods, from light appetizers to a perfectly grilled steak. 

Cabernet Franc: A parent grape to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Carménère, Cab Franc is an outstanding summer red in its own right. Its high acid, solid structure, modest tannins, and earthy flavors make it perfect for summer barbecues.


The key to enjoying reds in the summer is to serve them slightly chilled. A good rule of thumb is to aim for 56 or 57 degrees, which equals about 25 minutes in the fridge if your bottle started at room temperature. Not only does chilling make the wine, well, cooler and more refreshing, it also brings out the fruity notes and relaxes the taste of tannins and alcohol. 


Whether your patrons opt for white, red, pink, or sparkling, make sure your selection of summer wines is varied, plentiful, and — of course — fun, by shopping SGProof for all your summer sipping essentials.