Let us now sing the praises of picnic wines.
In the market just as summer’s heating up are several simple, inexpensive, lightly sweet sparkling or semi-sparkling wines tasting of peaches, oranges and even grapes.
I say “even” because for all our verbal gymnastics, we wine writers seldom describe a wine as tasting of the fruit from which it’s made. (I guess if all wines tasted like grapes, you wouldn’t need us.)
At any rate, these are light-bodied wines, mostly with 7 percent alcohol — little more than half the usual 12 percent of other wines but well above the 4.5 percent of the average American beer. So despite the similarities, this isn’t Fanta. Don’t guzzle.
They’re unserious wines, to be drunk extra-cold. You can jam a bottle into your ice chest, even pour it over ice cubes.
First come four wines imported by the Coleccion Internacional del Vino: Bellini, Mimosa, Sparkling Moscato and Pink Moscato.
The Bellini, of course, is inspired by the sparkling-wine-and-peach-nectar drink invented in 1948 by Giuseppi Cipriani, the bartender at Harry’s Bar, the Venetian haunt of Ernest Hemingway and Orson Wells. The drink was named for the 15th-century Italian painter Giovanni Bellini.
The Mimosa, historians speculate, was invented at the Ritz Hotel in Paris in 1925. Or maybe a French bartender stole the recipe from a London tavern that called it a Buck’s Fizz.
CIV’s Mimosa and Bellini wines are made of natural sparkling grape wines with orange concentrate or peach aromas added. They’re made of airen, a workhorse grape often used to lighten red wines and said by some to be the most prolific grape on the planet.
They get their bubbles via natural fermentation in big vats, not in individual bottles like champagnes. This is less expensive, and many say it preserves more of the fruity flavor. Especially, I guess, when you actually add fruit juices.
Another summer wine, Mionetto’s Il Spritz, is a semi-sparkling white with citrus flavors and herbs added. It’s inspired by the Spritz aperitif of Venice, where it was made of white wine, sparkling water and a mixer like Aperol, Campari or Cynar. Mionetto makes its Spritz of white prosecco grapes, citrus and a few drops of red wine from tempranillo, the famous grape in Chianti.
What do they go well with? Whatever’s in your picnic basket.
• 2010 Opera Prima Mimosa by J. Garcia Carrion Winery (airen grapes, 7 percent alcohol), La Mancha, Spain: sweet and fizzy, with orange aromas and flavors; $8.
• 2010 Opera Prima Bellini by J. Garcia Carrion Winery, La Mancha, Spain (airen grapes, 7 percent alcohol): sweet and fizzy, with peach aromas and flavors; $8.
• Nonvintage Opera Prima Sparkling Moscato by J. Garcia Carrion Winery La Mancha, Spain (moscato grapes, 7 percent alcohol): the label says it “presents an intense aroma of fresh grapes,” and it’s true. It’s also sweet and fizzy; $8.
• Nonvintage Opera Prima Pink Moscato, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla, Spain (97 percent moscato, 3 percent tempranillo, 7 percent alcohol): sweet and fizzy, with red berry flavors; $8.
• Nonvintage Mionetto’s Il Spritz (prosecco grapes with citrus and herbs), Valdobbiadene, Italy (8 percent alcohol): Neon orange in color, lightly fizzy and lightly sweet, with citrus and herb flavors; $10.