This summer has been long overdue. The mere fact that you can finally dine al fresco ought to be reason enough to tuck into your favorite sidewalk café for a fun, spontaneous date. As it happens, there are plenty of date situations that call for just the right wine. And some of the dates – and some of the wines – might just surprise you!
As the World Cup draws to a close, the final matches are upon us. There’s nothing like two uninterrupted 45-minute segments of play to get to know someone. The swell of tension and the palpable electricity of the beautiful game just might have you gripping each other’s hands and shrieking with glee or outrage. It’s the perfect opportunity to show your most effusive side, and see how your potential mate reacts in a stressful situation, while still in the safe haven of a café or sports bar.
As of now, Germany, Argentina, Brazil and The Netherlands are set to fight it out for the top three places. As far as team personality goes, Germany is a stealth machine. Fast-footed and tight. Riesling is the darling of the German wine-growing world and for good reason. If your idea of Riesling is something sweet and flabby, it’s probably coming from somewhere else. The epitome of German Riesling blooms with fresh aromas of ripe apricots and washed rocks—think pretty, but chiseled and linear, like Mats Hummel (#5). Whether it finishes sweet or dry, the key component is acidity. Sprightly and air-tight. The right Riesling is full of surprises and will keep you on your toes from start to finish. Come to think of it, it might be the best all-around World Cup wine pairing ever. Riesling novices and connoisseurs alike, look for Dr. Burklin Wolf Estate.
Team Argentina is beefy and well-trained. What grows together goes together, and the Argentinian powerhouse was raised on a red-meat, red-wine diet. Strong ties to Western Europe, combined with the enterprising individualism of the New World, make Argentina a fascinating country with prowess on the field to match. There’s no better choice than a hearty Malbec. Mendoza, the most famous growing area for Malbec, is a dramatic mountainous terrain with soul-stirring views that produce dynamic temperature fluctuations—much like watching Team Captain Lionel Messi (#10). He’s widely considered one of the best players today, and is as wildly popular with men as he is with women, which, incidentally, is also true about Malbec. It’s a manly wine with body, structure and earthy fruit. If you see the Zolo label around, go for it. The winery produces wines that encapsulate the harmonious marriage of nature and technological nurture.
Nod to the Netherlands
If you’re watching the Netherlands, a beer might be a more appropriate pairing. Fresh-faced striker Robin Van Persie (#9) plays for England’s Manchester United, which makes a classic lager even more appropriate. Don’t be fooled though. This is no “light and forgettable” beer situation. The Dutch came in strong at the first match of the cup. They’ve got just the kind of spring in their steps that you get from a Grolsch or a La Trappe, bright and hoppy, these guys know when to jump to save a ball or sink a tremendous goal. And there’s always good old Amstel. If The Netherlands is your “home team,” stick with the familiar.
Be Bold in Brazil
Brazil is playing in their home country, but they’re having a hard time defending it. If you’re cheering on Brazil, just have a Caipirinha (or three). Cachaça is the country’s signature sugarcane liquor and it’s always a winning combination when muddled with fresh lime. They may not take the Cup, but you can’t take away the Caipirinha.
And Finally, for the Non-Sporty
Once the World Cup is over, there’s still plenty of reason to do some summer sipping in good company. Not so sports inclined? Try an outdoor concert. Music in the park events are great, and often free, if packed to the gills. You might find something more intimate at venues like Boston’s Tanglewood, the Hollwood Bowl in LA, or Chicago’s Ravinia Park where you can pack a picnic and enjoy the music from a distance. Summer nights can be chilly, which might seem tricky. Luckily, you can charm your honey with a bottle of Côtes de Provence rosé. These wines transition ideally from beachside to starlight, as they’re made with hot-blooded red grapes like Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. Ice-cold, they’re refreshing with a sea-salty finish, but after some time in the glass, you’ll feel the heat. Lambrusco is another of my favorites for summer days and nights. It’s dry, red, and semi-sparkling, but comes served chilled. Try Ermete Medici SOLO for something classic with dark purple-grapey aromas and a healthy tannic pull. Lambrusco pairs historically with hard cheeses like Parmesan and salty charcuterie, which makes it the perfect picnic companion.