As summer approaches and temperatures heat up, our thoughts turn to cookouts, picnics and the perfect wine pairings for lighter seasonal menus. Our palates are ready to shed the robust reds of winter and experience crisp, sassy wines, like a spring fling for our taste buds.
Sommelier Jim Santangelo, founder of The Wine Academy of Utah and owner/operator of Café Trio Park City, shares his extensive knowledge and offers some suggestions for summer tastings. “Th e bluebird days of early summer call for crisp whites like the Vietti Arneis from Italy’s Piedmont region,” he says. “Th is racy little white is a great alternative to Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.”
With medium body, good acidity and aromatics of citrus and lemon, it leaves a lingering hint of lemon, herbs and honeydew on the palate. It’s best with food, and it pairs well with small plates like Café Trio’s Charred Beets—fresh grilled beets prepared with goats’ milk “labneh” or Greek yogurt, herbs, citrus and pistachio
“dukkah”, an Egyptian condiment.
If you’re a fan of reds, try a Rosé like the Stemmari from Sicily. Stemmari is made from the Nero d’Avola grape varietal and shows both red fruit and citrus on the nose, surprising palates with a vibrant burst of grapefruit, cherry and strawberry. “Th is wine is good on its own for sipping or it’s also the perfect wine to settle into the evening with Trio’s Chopped Salad with Seared Salmon,” says Santangelo.
Another good red choice for summer is the Scribe Pinot Noir, a wine that Jim discovered in Carneros, California and exclusively ordered and introduced at the restaurant. (It’s now available in Utah state liquor stores.) “Th is fantastic wine brings me close to the clouds and really sings when paired with the Smoked Verlasso Salmon. Th e soft delicate black cherries, black raspberries and light spice mingle well with the flavor of the smoked salmon.” Th e Scribe Pinot Noir is also great with Fettucini Carbonara.
As lazy summer afternoons set in, Jim recommends white wines that are a little fuller in the mouth. “One of my favorites is the Cotes de Tables ‘Blanc’ from the Tablas Creek Winery in Paso Robles, California,” Santangelo says. Produced from a blend of white Rhone varietals, it marries the fl oral aromatics of Viognier, the crisp acidity of Grenache Blanc and the structure and minerality of Marsanne and Rousanne, producing a fuller style without oak aging. It compliments Café Trio’s Roasted Mary’s Chicken or their Shrimp Scampi.
Café Trio pours using the Coravin Wine Preserve system, a wine lover’s dream gadget that uses transformational technology to pour favorite wines by the glass without pulling the cork, preventing oxidation and preserving wine for weeks. Th ey also embrace wines on tap, a system that keeps wine fresh from the fi rst sip to the last, which also lessens the environmental impact of bottling, shipping and recycling. Wines on tap also enable customers to taste a variety of select unique or hard-to-find wines.
Relax on Café Trio’s spacious patio this summer and try a flight of a single varietal and experience the same grape, three different ways from three diverse regions: a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, a French Sancerre and a Fume Blanc from California. Or get on their mailing list and meet guest vintners at festive wine tastings and dinners.