Hot Weather – Cool Wine

boston summerWe’ve been experiencing the last vestiges of Summer here in the United States (well, except for our friends in Alaska).  Autumn is soon upon us and there’s no reason to leave those lovely summer wines in the cooler.  I’ve been enjoying my favorites, the Martin Codax Albarino,  from Spain, Fantini Trebbiano-d-Abruzzo from Italy and most recently I found a new favorite white, Domaine Guillemarine Picpoul from France.  We were in Burlington, Vermont and had the fortune of stopping in at the Vin Bar . I had never heard of a Picpoul wine, let alone tried it.  This is a beautiful white wine, similar to the Albarino but with more acidity to it.  The price is reasonable and if you’re lucky enough to find it in your shop, I recommend getting two bottles.

Keep in mind almost all white wines that have a high degree of minerality and acidity go with chilled white wineshellfish and seafood.  Another easy way to figure a pairing is where the foods come from.  If you’re eating food of a particular country, France, Spain, Italy, etc., then those foods will naturally go with the wine of that region.   And, if there is a lot of acidity in the food (such as tomatoes) then a wine with acidity (Barbera) will go with that food.  Salty and Sweet pair well (Port and Blue Cheese, or Sauterne and Blue Cheese), and sweet fruits (cherries, plums, berries) go well with most Rosé wines, dry (Pinot Noir) and not as dry (Grenache Rosé or Mourvèdre Rosé – or a blend).

Chilled-red-wineAnother thought when you’re experiencing warm weather, you can, and should, chill the lighter of the red wines to 60 degrees.  The lighter reds that I keep in my cooler are; Pinot Noir, Barbera, Petite Sirah,  and Australian Shiraz (the lighter style, not the dark inky style). These wines will change as they warm up and their flavors will soften, giving you different notes and aromas to experience.

The table below is a simple list of easy to access wine for warm/hot weather and some easy pairings.  Your tastes may differ, this is just a starting point.  What will you be pairing with your chilled wine?

Type of Wine Name of Wine Easy Pairing
Albarino Burgans Albarino Baixas Rioja White Spicy Indian and Thai
Albarnio Martin Codax Arugula Salad
Chenin Blanc (South African) De Morgenzon Reserve Turkey, Cranberry
Chenin Blanc (Blend) Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc/Viognier Pork, Nuts, Cheddar Cheese
Grüner Veltliner Höpler Wiener Schnitzel,   Green Beans,
Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio DaVinci Lemon Chicken, Fennel salad
Riesling (Dry) Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek Riesling Asian Food
Sauvignon Blanc (French) Joseph Destinea Mellot Chicken, Turkey, Chives, Green Veggies
Vermentino Fattoria Pagliaatura Vermentino Pasta with Seafood, Herbs & Citrus
Vino Verde Casal Garcia Light Cheese, Chips (drinks well alone)
Viognier Cline Curry or Asian Food
White Bordeaux Ducasse Blanc Tarragon Chicken, Asparagus
White Burgundy La Chablisienng Roast Chicken with Mushrooms
Grenache Alloy Wine Works “Tin City” Melon and Prosciutto, Salade Nicoise
Tempranillo Mas Que Vinos Ercavio Greek Cuisine, Paella, Grilled Sausage
Pinot Noir Rive Sud Grilled Pork or Beef, Quiche
Provence Bandol Artichokes, Caesar Salad
Barbera Mati Grilled Beef, Mushrooms
Grenache (American) Alban Vineyards Estate Grenache Spicy Grilled Meat and Vegetables.
Petite Sirah McManis Barbeque Beef, Duck, Lamb
Pinot Noir Acrobat Herbed Pork Roast, Lamb

Final Course – Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese & Walnuts.

roasted pearsWinding up our week, we enjoyed the final course of the Five Courses, Five Wines – Five Days.  Actually it was more than 7 or 8 wines but who’s counting.  I found the recipe for this desert on the  There are several recipes for this combination but this particular recipe has more sweetness than salad in it which I preferred for a desert.  You could make this recipe for a salad,  the original recipe has arugula in it but I omitted that, keeping it more in a desert style.  The recipe is as follows:


  • 3 ripe but firm Anjou pears
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
  • 3 ounces coarsely crumbled sharp blue cheese such as Stilton
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup walnut halves, toasted and chopped
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 3 tablespoons port
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 6 ounces baby arugula
  • Kosher salt


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

pearsPeel the pears and slice them lengthwise into halves. With a small sharp paring knife and a melon baller, remove the core and seeds from each pear, leaving a round well for the filling. Trim a small slice away from the rounded sides of each pear half so that they will sit in the baking dish without wobbling. Toss the pears with some lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown. Arrange them, core side up, in a baking dish large enough to hold the pears snugly.

Gently toss the crumbled blue cheese, dried cranberries, and walnuts together in a small bowl. Divide the mixture among the pears, mounding it on top of the indentation.

In the same small bowl, combine the apple cider, port, and brown sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour the mixture over and around the pears. Bake the pears, basting occasionally with the cider mixture, for 30 minutes, or until tender. Set aside until warm or at room temperature.

Just before serving, whisk together the olive oil, 1/4 cup of lemon juice, and 1/4 cup of the pears2basting liquid in a large bowl. Divide the arugula among 6 plates and top each with a pear half. Drizzle each pear with some of the basting liquid, sprinkle with salt, and serve warm.

My changes:  I omitted the Arugula, salt and olive oil.  I substituted Cider Jelly for the Apple Cider because I have some that I want to use up.  Cider Jelly is a convenient way to keep Apple Cider on hand, just melt before using.  If I was to make this as a salad, I would cut down on the brown sugar – to two tablespoons.  The port has enough sweetness in it,  to cut down on the sugar if serving this as a salad.  The brown sugar gives the sauce a different texture, makes it a bit thicker, and that’s not really needed if you’re serving this as salad.  I was unable to use a melon baller to core out the pears, they were too firm.  I used a pairing knife instead.

We originally paired this with a Sauterne; Chateau d’Arche Prieure d’Arche Sauterne.   We found we did not particularly like the Sauterne by itself, but paired with this desert it was very good.  We also tried it with a Warre’s Warrior Port which was my original choice.  Both worked well, I think the Sauterne would be the way to go for serving this dish in the summer, Port in the winter.   You could also serve this desert with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, especially if you have guests that are not wine drinkers (scandalous I know, but there are those folks out there).

pears3I have shown you pictures of the before and after.  You can see how much the pears shrank in the oven.   I could have used a smaller dish but then it would be more difficult to baste them while cooking.  If you use a smaller dish, hold back 1/3 of the Port, Sugar and Cider mixture and use that to baste while the pears are cooking.   These particular pears were very firm, not completely ripe.  I cooked them for 35 minutes instead of the recommended 30 minutes and left them in the oven, which was turned off,  while we ate dinner (about 30 minutes).  I was very unhappy about the presentation this desert made but El Hub took one bite and said “these may not look good but they taste fantastic.”  Enough said.