What Makes a Seasonal Wine?

There are frequent references in wine articles and wine books to "seasonal" wines — wines that are better for summer, fall, winter, or spring. How can a wine be better suited to one season rather than another? What makes one wine more of a "summer wine" but another more of a "winter wine"?

There is no simple formula for wines being seasonal; instead, it's a question of what wines feel like and how a wine pairs not just with food, but also with the surrounding temperature or weather.

Wine Temperature

Another important consideration in what makes a wine a summer wine or a winter wine is the temperature at which the wine is best served. If a wine is best served a little warmer, then it's a better wine to drink during the cold winter months when you probably don't want a cold drink. If a wine is best served colder, then it's a better wine to drink during the hot summer months when a colder drink is more welcome and more refreshing.

Fortunately, this closely matches the differences we find when taking into account wine pairing with food: the wines that go best with heavier winter foods are also best served a little warmer while the wines that pair best with lighter summer foods are also best served a little colder. You don't want a Cabernet Sauvignon that's been chilled as cold as champagne and you don't want a Riesling served at room temperature — especially the temperature of a room in the middle of summer!

Another wine temperature factor to keep in mind is that there are wines which are actually meant to be served after they have been heated, not simply served "a little warmer," as in room temperature. Heated wine drinks, which include mulled wine and mead, are traditionally drunk during the cold winter months when hot beverages of all sorts become popular. You don't drink hot chocolate during the middle of summer so of course you're not going to find many people drinking hot mulled wine during the summer either.




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