Why stretch your budget for an overpriced Riesling when an affordable, easy-drinking Zinfandel can do the job? We’re talking summer party wines of course. If you’re planning an al fresco dinner or picnic brunch, you don’t have to reach for cult labels with a hefty price tag. Remember, most wine drinkers appreciate straight-forward notes and a clean finish. As long as you find food-pairable wines with low tannin, moderate acidities and some low-dosage sparklers, you’re all set to entertain.
A good thumb rule while curating a wine list for your party is to consider the style of food you’re offering. Rich, full-flavoured and fruit-intensive wines from warm regions like California or southern Europe can be good options for a summer barbecue, or even for a low-key brunch with cheese grazing boards.
For after-dark dos, stick to crisp, varietal wines from cooler places like Bordeaux or Germany, which are usually light and make versatile blends. Homegrown options can be cheaper than imported ones and are easy to stock up on. Here’s an easy primer on what wines you can explore for summer parties:
Best white: Vallonne Vineyards Viognier (Reserve)
This medium-bodied white wine is perfect for those who like Chardonnay, but want something a bit less acidic. Nashik’s Vallone Vineyards makes a creamy Viognier, which is an easy-drinking wine with natural aromatics. It's fermented in French oak barrels that add a generous velvety texture to the wine. Viognier boasts some prominent floral and candy notes, and also balances some subtle citrusy flavours.
Pair it with: Soft cheeses like Brie, or semi-soft cheeses like Emmenthal and Gruyère.
Pocket pinch: Rs 1,050 (approximately)
Best red: Chêne Grande Reserve by Grover Zampa
A generous Shiraz blend will never fail you at a summer party. This award-winning Indian reserve is a blend of Tempranillo and Shiraz, and is aged for 15 months. The Karnataka-based Grover Zampa’s Chêne Grande begins with aromas of blackberry, currant and ripe plums and has an elegant finish laced with a hint of vanilla and roasted coffee beans.
Pair it with: Skewered meats
Pocket pinch: Rs 2,100 (approximately)
Best Rosé: Sula Seco Rosé
The reason Sula’s Rosé enjoys the kind of popularity it does is that it’s innately pairable with Indian flavours. It balances acidity and sweetness, thanks to a nose full of nectarine, watermelon and soft white fruits. It’s often considered a better pick than Sula’s Zinfandel Rosé, since it’s suited to almost every palate and has an agreeable finish.
Pair it with: Crispy fish fingers and Indian pakoras
Pocket pinch: Rs 655 (approximately)
Best sparkling: Fratelli Gran Cuve Brut
If you don’t want an overpriced Prosecco, explore homegrown options for sparkling wines. The Fratelli Gran Cuveé Brut offers a touch of citrus on the palate and a lovely persistence in the mouth. The Chenin Blanc grapes offer mineral notes and acidity that give it an elegant finish. If you’re looking for zero-dosage sparklers with a long ageing process, this is a great pick.
Pair it with: Shellfish, foie gras, cheesecake
Pocket pinch: Rs 1,345 (approximately)
Best dessert wine: Vietti Moscato d’Asti
Dessert wines, or sweet wines, can be great additions to a summer meal, especially if you’re serving desserts. The frothy Vietti Moscato has good amounts of natural acidity and is well worth the price tag. It offers notes of canned peaches, white flower petals, candied ginger and honeysuckle. It’s not too fruit-forward and is ideal for carb-loaded summer brunches.
Pair it with: Lobster, pastries, fruit-based desserts
Pocket pinch: Rs 3,000
Best overall wine: Clos de la Roilette Fleurie
A Beaujolais is the ultimate option for summer al fresco experiences. It is typically low in alcohol and suits most palates. A Beaujolais is a light red wine made with Gamay Noir grapes. Fleurie wines are, without a doubt, the most elegant of the Beaujolais picks. They are delicate, fruity and work best as aperitifs. The Clos de la Roilette is layered with fruit, fine tannins and acids, which offers a silky finish.
Pair it with: Pork roast and apples
Pocket pinch: Rs 1,664