by Carlo DeVito
The Hudson Valley is just glorious in summer. Boating up and down the river’s broad waters, picnicking in the many large, well-kept parks, visiting farms whose fields and orchards bulge with swelling crops, and hiking through trails in the Shawangunks and Catskills are just some of the things that make summer in the Valley so unforgettable. Of course, summer is always a perfect time for wine too!
Here are three ways to enjoy wines during the warm months: summer whites, sangrias, and wine festivals!
The classic images of summer haven’t really changed for decades. Cars with convertible roofs. Yard sales. Antiquing. Drive-ins. Golf clubs and tennis racquets. Pools and sprinklers. Picnic tables and cookouts. And summer whites. White jeans, white t-shirts, white shorts, white bathing suits, and white cotton dresses. Cool, classic, and comfortable.
And the same goes for wine as well! Who can resist cool, crisp, refreshing whites with great tropical fruit flavors, great minerality, and zippy acidity? Whites go great with salads, grilled veggies, fresh local artisanal cheeses, crudité, bruschetta, and other fun summer cool weather snacks.
There is nothing better than visiting your local wineries in the middle of summer and sampling the Valley’s highly acclaimed wines. Light bright whites, rosés, and light reds are perfect during the hot season to cool us down or to accompany grilled meats, fish, and vegetables.
Here are just a few great local classic whites for the season: Applewood Seyval Chardonnay, Altamont St. Crispin, Benmarl Slate Hill White, Brotherhood Riesling and Dry Riesling, Cereghino-Smith Bianca, Clinton Seyval Blanc, Hudson-Chatham Seyval Blanc, Millbrook Tocai Fruliano, Oak Summit Chardonnay, Stoutridge Seyval Blanc, Tousey Chardonnay, Warwick Valley Riesling, or Whitecliff Awosting White.
Sangrias and Wine Coolers
But summer is not just about whites. Coolers and sangrias are fun and festive for entertaining and making any backyard gathering an occasion!
In Spain and Portugal, the idea of blending fruit juice and wine dates back centuries. Sangria is named after the Spanish word for blood, sangre, because of its typical dark red color. Traditionally, fruits such as oranges, lemons, and apples are cut up and placed in the wine, generally in a large punch bowl. It is then chilled and served. Some recipes call for the addition of other spirits, such as brandy, but some do not. Lemonade or orange juice is typically added. In modern times, sangria has taken on new twists, such as mixing reds and white, adding strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, or making sangrias with white wines (called sangria blanca in Spain or cleric in Argentina), rosé, or blush wines.
Hearty Red Wine Sangria:
2 bottles (750 ml each) Hudson Valley red wine
1 Granny Smith apple, diced into bite-sized pieces
1 Empire or other red apple, diced into bite-sized pieces
1 orange, sliced length-wise
1 lemon, sliced length-wise
1 bunch of green (or red) seedless grapes, halved
1/4 cup Grand Marnier or Triple Sec (can replace with brandy for white sangria)
1/2 cup orange juice
Place sliced oranges and lemons in the bottom of a large bowl or container. Top with other fruits. Add the wine, liqueur, and orange juice, and stir lightly to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve. To serve, dole out some fruit into individual wine glasses and top with the wine. You can add ice or even a splash of club soda or ginger ale to finish it.
Wine coolers so popular today can be traced back to another ancient Spanish wine tradition called Tinto de Verano (Summer Red Wine), which is a wine-based cold drink similar to sangria. The blend is usually one part red wine and one part soda, such as Sprite or 7-Up, so the alcohol is generally around four to five percent. Wine coolers are refreshing, cooling, and low in alcohol.
White Wine Cooler Recipe:
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce pineapple juice
1/2 ounce grapefruit juice
4 ounces Hudson Valley white wine
6 ounces seltzer water
Use a large wine glass or a highball glass. Add ingredients over ice, and serve. Garnish with fresh local fruits of the season, such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and/or blackberries.
Wine Festivals and Events in the Valley This Summer:
There is nothing more fun than going to a wine festival. You can sample a wide variety of wines in a short amount of time or try great locally prepared foods, and, in many instances, you can meet the wine maker or owner! The Hudson Valley has a number of fun events scheduled this year for your enjoyment!
Sangria Festival at Robibero Vineyards
July 20 & 21
Sangria Festival at Benmarl Winery
July 20 & 21
Bounty of the Hudson Wine and Food Festival at Whitecliff Vineyards
July 27 & 28
Sangria Festival at Hudson-Chatham Winery
Hudson Valley Wine & Food Fest at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds
September 7 & 8
So, kick off your shoes and sit back while enjoying a glass of cold white wine, sangria, or wine cooler, and relish the wine country of the Hudson Valley!
A Summer Place, released in the fall of 1959, was a romantic film starring Sandra Dee and Tab Hunter. Other great summer romance movies include Beach Party, The Graduate, Grease, The Flamingo Kid, Dirty Dancing, 500 Days of Summer, Can’t Hardly Wait, The Notebook, and classics like Summertime (with Katherine Hepburn) and Roman Holiday (with Audrey Hepburn).