It's a special kind of climatic hangover we endure this time of year in Maryland. And like "hangover," the official letter for August probably should be "H"—hazy, hot, and humid. But a refreshing beverage can be just the thing to take the edge off the suffocating heat.
Sometimes an ice-cold beer is the only way to get through the blazing temperatures. But that doesn't always work with outdoor dining or when one is simply in the mood for wine. Intense, jammy, oaky reds are about as appealing as mulled cider or root canals this time of the year and are best avoided. Instead, look for light-body, no-oak influence, brilliant acidity, and, above all, chillable wines.
Getting the wine cold is certainly a good idea when preparing to enjoy a bottle of Avinyó Vi D'Agulla 2007 (Bacchus Importers Ltd., $15). This quirky beauty hails from Spain and is the single most fascinating sparkler I have encountered all year. It's only got half the carbonation pressure of a traditional sparkling wine, and so does away with the monster cork and cage. High-toned aromas of peach and honey abound, which might lead one to think the wine is going to be sweet. What a delightful surprise to taste a completely clean and bone-dry white wine, chock full of stone fruit and pear notes, but also grassy citrus and stony mineral flavors. If only there were a straw long enough for the bottle.
No straw is needed for the Domaine de Fontsainte Corbières "Gris de Gris" 2007 (Chesapeake Beverage Group, $15), as it is a still wine and therefore chuggable right out of the bottle. Delicious flavors of strawberry and summery red fruits are evident, and all this rosé needs is a good chill and a plate of freshly sliced tomatoes to make it disappear in a hurry. Better to bring two bottles home, as it is never a good idea to run out of rosé during the dog days of summer.
There are plenty of foods that still require a red wine, even in a sticky season like this—barbecued ribs, for instance, or deliciously simple fare like burgers and Italian sausage. In these situations, a wine like La Campagne Pinot Noir 2007 (Monsieur Touton, $10) is a great choice. This is pinot noir from the south of France, fermented in stainless steel and bottled with no oak influence. The wine is refreshingly light and responds well to being chilled a bit.
It bursts with ripe-red-fruit notes and manages to carry a degree of richness and silkiness without being heavy. It's the quintessential picnic red, and the price means one could keep plenty on hand for any occasion.