Sips for Hot Summer Nights — Outsmarting Wine

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Photo by: Amy Fletcher ©

Amy Fletcher,

Every week, Mark Oldman -- wine expert, acclaimed author and lead judge of the hit series The Winemakers -- shares with readers the basics of wine, while making it fun and practical. In the coming weeks, he'll tell you what to ask at a wine store, at what temperature to serve it and share his must-have wine tools.

There’s no shame in the expression, “I don’t want to have to think,” when it comes to selecting wine for the sizzling soirées of summer.  At this steamy time of year, even wine aficionados want their pleasure immediate and their price tags moderate.  When contemplating which corks to pull, strive for the alcoholic equivalent of a steel drum or the Black Eyed Peas’ exuberant “ I Gotta Feeling” -- these wine types are guaranteed to make “tonight a good night.”

Prosecco: Light, uncomplicated, bubbly and sometimes a tad sweet, Prosecco is the easy Italian prince. It's a smartly-priced miracle worker that is instantly likeable and uplifting. Try it in a magnum, a double bottle which is becoming increasingly popular.

Vinho Verde: A staple of the Portuguese table, Vinho Verde is a spritzy splash of lemon-lime that is deeply thirst quenching. Its lager-like texture and single-digit price are ideal to turn your beer-only friends onto wine.  A cold glass of Vinho Verde with lighter seafood such as Jamie Oliver’s Fish Steamed With Couscous will cool down the most overheated souls.

Beaujolais: The ultimate don’t-worry-be-happy red, Beaujolais is like a good swig of spiked cranberry juice. Its bright berry perfume and light, gulpable texture rarely fail to charm the summer sipper.  Typically priced from $10 to $15, it is so smooth that you can serve it quite chilled and pair it with all but the heaviest of dishes.  It would be perfect with Bobby Flay’s BBQ Chicken Cobb Salad.

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