Entertaining during any season is all about having the right food and drink for your crowd, and this is even more true in the summer. When the beautiful weather creates the ambiance for you, and people don’t need an excuse to get out and party, it’s all about having the right stuff at the table! So I sat down with the dynamic duo behind Chicago’s MAX’s Wine Dive, Chef Jessica Brumleve and Wine Sales Manager Kristin Irwin, to get all the best tips and tricks for picking the perfect wine for your summer event.
Trust your taste buds
For those who are nervous about picking a wine for a party or having a signature vintage they can always recommend, Irwin says not to worry.
“It is not about the exact label or winery. It is about your flavor preferences. Do you like a more fruit forward wine? Do you like a dry wine? Do you want something light or full bodied? Knowing small details like this can help you narrow down your choices.”
Or go to the professionals! MAX’s has staff on hand who are trained to help you narrow down choices to make the best one for you, and they let you try the wine before you commit. It’s the perfect place to hone your wine knowledge before you show it all off at your next gathering.
It doesn’t have to cost a fortune
“Summer brings such amazing ingredients into the markets, let them shine!” says Brumleve.
She recommends light salads and fruits with vinegar-based sauce to brighten up the dish. And save money with decor too! Use empty white anchovy glass containers or spray painted soup cans as vases. Try butchers paper to line tables and cutting down round fire logs to place candles on.
It’s best to be prepared
“Sometimes, throwing a dinner party on the fly, at midnight after work is just what happens,” Brumleve says (rough life!)
So she and Irwin always have several bottles of wine on hand at their homes. Irwin advises keeping a mixture of reds, whites, bubbles, and rosés in the kitchen because you never know what mood you or your guests might be in.
Be ready to evolve
Irwin says she hopes guests always have an unforgettable experience, but that they continue to always be pleasantly surprised each time they come to MAX’s. The same goes for any dinner! Be willing to make changes to your menu or plan if need be, but always have a constant state of deliciousness in mind.
“Chef Jessica’s menu is always evolving and changing, and so the same goes for our wine and beer list. We want guests to be able to come back 50 times and get something different every time; or get their trusty Fried Chicken and glass of bubbles!”
For a few specific summer wines, straight from our experts at MAX’s Wine Dive, read on…
Top Wine Choices for Summer from MAX Wine Dive
- Albariño (Spain): Aromatic and acidic with notes of citrus, white peaches, and green apple. Pairs perfectly with seafood and fish. Try if you normally drink Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.
- Tröcken Riesling: This is not your expected overly sweet white wine. Tröcken Rieslings have no residual sugar because they are fermented dry and are therefore dry instead of sweet.
- Any Rosé: Especially if you are typically a red drinker. Particularly a still (no bubbles) French one.
- Prodige Brut (Loire Valley, France): Fruit notes of green apples and pears. Clean and not aggressively dry.
- Argam Verdejo (La Mancha, Spain): Ripe fruit flavors of peach and lemon. Acidity, crispness, and light body make it great to drink with food.