Italian reds for summer

Tim's Wine Market
4 wines mentioned in the blog

As the weather heats up my red wines of preference change to those that are slightly lower in alcohol and more appropriate with lighter summer fare.  So the other day I was pulling together a case of things to drink in May and I kept grabbing Italian reds.  Now you may be thinking to yourself, “Italian reds!” but I am not talking about big Barolos, Brunellos and Amarones.  No, my wines of preference are Barberas, Chiantis and my new favorite category, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.  Far from simple, light wines, these versions give you a lot of flavor without being heavy and they even take a slight chill when dining al fresco.  I cannot over emphasize that these wines should be decanted for half an hour before serving.Not all of these specific wines are available in every store but every Tim’s should have something like these listed.  For grilling salmon and tuna, I like to reach for a Barbera, good examples from Marchesi di Barolo Maraia ($12) and Icardi Tabaren ($16) offer a lot of bang for the buck.  Inexpensive, tank aged Barbera are bright, medium weight wines with crunchy, red berry flavors of currants and raspberries.  I don’t mind drinking these wines at cellar temperature and that makes them a great for drinking on the patio as the sun is going down.When I want something with a little more body, I like pull out a good, Chianti like Bartali Ducceto ($13) or Bibbiani Poggio Vignosi ($12).  Both give you the dried cherry, star gazer lily and baked potato skin aromas of the region, with more mid-palate breadth than above, and good focus on the finish.  I love Chianti with whole grilled chicken under a brick, served with roasted portobello mushrooms and grilled radicchio.  Sprinkle the whole dish with a little truffle salt before serving and wait for the applause.Finally, my hot new favorite category of Italian reds is Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.  Not to be confused with the Tuscan region of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, these are wines made from the Montepulciano grape grown in the region of Abruzzo.  Here you want to think of Chianti with broad shoulders and a thicker sense of fruit in the mid palate.  My favorite inexpensive version is from Capestrano ($12) and offers up a nose of stewed cherries, dried tobacco and jasmine blossoms.  It you want something a little more serious, try the Villa Medoro ($19) which also sees oak barrel aging and is even bigger, almost like California Cab with better acidity.  These are great wines to serve with grilled pork tenderloin with a rosemary and mustard crust or with an oil and garlic rubbed steak.So as the weather heats up, don’t miss the chance to lighten your alcohol intake without sacrificing volume.  You will find that you can drink a couple of glasses of these wines and still go out for a walk when the sun goes down.