Summer wines picked for picnics

"In the warmer weather, we don't wear a lot of clothes, so we drink wine that doesn't have a lot of baggage," said Patrick Fegan, Chicago Wine School. "You want to get wines that are relatively tart, so they've got a nice crisp finish, lip-smacking kind of characteristic."

That means gruner veltliner, a grape that is quickly gaining popularity for its price and quality.

"Gruner from Austria is becoming very popular. Not as sexy as riesling, but good, dry, lip-smacking nice tartness to it," said Fegan.

Grenache Rose is another winning summer combination, as is a version from Beckman Vineyards.

"When you go to Provence, and you don't have any clothes on those beaches, they drink a ton of good, dry, Provencal Rose," said Fegan.

Chardonnay too often gets a bad rap, mainly because its over-oaked, and Fegan says there are some new wineries from Australia keeping their chardonnay away from it.

"We actually have some wineries, very courageous wineries I think from a marketing point of view, putting 'un-wooded' or 'un-oaked' on the label," said Fegan.

Sauvignon blanc is an excellent summertime grape, but Fegan says so is the lesser-known pinot gris. Oregon's A to Z vineyard is a fine example at an affordable price.

"Pinot gris is a nice lighter, really less-expensive alternative to chardonnay cause the grapes cost less," said Regan.

Another thing to watch- alcohol content.

"You don't want wines with a lot of alcohol. I mean, maybe some do, but in the summer it's just too heavy. And also, if you're outside and you heat up your glass, the alcohol stands out a lot."

One of the great things about light, easy summer wines is that they don't have to cost much.. and besides good weather, that's something certainly worth celebrating.

Fegan also says you can also serve lightly-chilled red wine at a summer picnic, just as long as it's not a powerful Zin or Cabernet. He teaches classes all over the city.


Some of the wines mentioned:

Villa Maria New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
Milbrandt Vineyards Riesling
Velt.1 Gruner Veltliner
A to Z Oregon Pinot Gris
Beckman Vineyards Grenache Rose
South Australia Unwooded Chardonnay
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