Top Wine Picks for Your Summer Party

Depending on where you live, Canadian winters can be quite harsh. Nature’s unrelenting icy grip for up to six months a year has borne in us the need to compensate in the summer months by upping our social activities, maximizing our long weekends, and finding the sunshine wherever possible.

Summer parties tend to be casual. They involve donning flip flops, firing up the BBQ, and sipping drinks under patio lanterns. Food options are usually lighter and more varied which provides a lot of opportunity for wine pairing. To help with planning the ultimate Canadian summer party, we’ve come up with a list of unique wines that are perfectly suited to your summer shindig.

1. Sparkling Wine 
Having wine regions that share the same latitude as Champagne, France, has its advantages - Canada makes some fantastic sparkling wine. Why save this for the end of your celebration? Serve it up early and well-chilled as an aperitif, perfect for welcoming guests when they arrive. For something fun and fruity try the Pink Elephant from Elephant Orchard Wines in Okanagan, BC, a steal at under $25. For a more traditional offering, also from the Okanagan, reach for the Cipes Rosé from Summerhill Pyramid Winery. A gold medal winner at the Effervescents du Monde, it offers great value at $26.95.

2. Aromatic Whites
Instead of offering guests standard Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs, wow them with varietals that are light, aromatic and perfect for summer sipping like Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Muscat and Pinot Blanc. JoieFarm in BC produces a wonderful Noble Blend of all four grapes from which you get tropical fruit notes and baking spices like nutmeg and clove. If you're serving up spicier fare, try Thornhaven's award-winning Gewürztraminer with its notes of citrus, peach, lychee, and honey for $18.

3. Rosé
Rosé wines are perhaps the most versatile for your summer party, a good fail-safe option especially if you are looking for a rosé that is medium-bodied and a tad on the dry side. Rosés provide that refreshing character needed for a hot summer day, while retaining the ability to complement a wide range of foods. At $22, the 2013 Rosé from Tanatalus Vineyards in the Okanagan Valley fits the bill nicely, offering a crowd-pleasing dry but refreshing style.

4. Pinot Noir
Don’t be afraid to lightly chill your Pinot Noir, this lighter-bodied red can handle it! Pinot Noir also does well with a variety of foods, making it a great option for your BBQ or poolside. Niagara's 13th Street Winery is offering $4 off their esteemed 2011 Pinot Noir for the month of August only, making it a solid choice at under $20. Or look to the Okanagan Valley in BC for rich, complex Pinot Noirs from Meyer Family Vineyards.

5. Baco Noir
Baco Noir is a lesser known varietal that pairs extremely well with grilled, especially charred, meats. Rarely seen outside of North America, Canada is home to some excellent Baco Noirs such as the 2012 from Ridge Road, a spicy little number at $15.95 that’s bound to get your guests talking. Summerhill Pyramid Winery also produces an excellent wine in their 2011 Baco Noir, available in limited quantities for $24.95.

Hosts often prefer to keep things safe; summer parties can be saturated with oaky Chardonnays, or big Cabernet Sauvignons when steaks are in the spotlight. Our top summer party wines offer guests a nice introduction to the diverse Canadian wine landscape  while also providing versatility (have you heard that sparkling wine does well with salty potato chips and dip?).

We hope this helps to inspire you when planning your next summer party!

Now all you need is the Kim Mitchell.

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