By Shelby Rowe Moyer | Image credit: Beth Skogen
We’re here for the wine no matter what the season, but there’s something rather special about summer wines — the kind of wine that makes you want to sit in the sun with your toes in the grass.
Molly Moran, owner of Table Wine, knows what we’re talking about. She opened the local wine shop in 2015 to fill the need for a dedicated wine shop in her east side neighborhood, and has been helping people pick the perfect bottle ever since.
“When thinking of summer wines, I try to pick things that are refreshing and crowd-pleasing but interesting,” she says. “You can pour it [for] just about anyone and they’re going to like it, but it’s not complex. Summer wines tend to have a lower alcohol content. There’s some day-drinking in the summer. We’re hot and outside and camping, and we’re going to have some wine. I picked things you could drink at any time of day with any food.”
Rosé tends to be near the top of everyone’s summer wine list, and Moran carries roughly 300 varieties in the summer, including option No. 1 listed below. Year-round, she also has a curated list of spirits and beer, plus cheese, crackers and chocolate.
So, if you’re looking for a little inspiration or guidance, here are some go-to grabs.
Flavor: Fresh and fruity with a grapefruit aroma
“Since we started the store in 2015, rosé has been outrageously popular and continues to be,” Moran says. “It was challenging to pick which rosé ruled them all, but I love this wine, and it’s proven to be really popular with a wide variety of people. It’s on the juicier side, but not sweet, per se. It’s refreshing and juicy. A couple of the wines I picked fall into the natural wine bucket. We’ve seen increased interest in organic, and La Patience falls into that category.
2019 Xarmant Txakoli, $17
Flavor: Light, fruity, effervescent
“I love introducing people to wines from this area,” she says. “It’s from a small region in the Basque area of Spain. It’s the perfect summer wine — light, crisp and salty. You feel like you’re by the sea.”
Flavor: Fruit-forward and full-bodied
“Some want to drink red no matter the weather,” she says. “I went with a big but balanced red blend from Oregon. Regardless of the weather, it kind of suits all your needs. It’s perfect with grilled foods and good for cozying up in the winter. [Maison Noir Wines] is owned by a black man and is one of the few black-owned wineries. [In total] there are 65 black-owned wineries in the U.S. Only one [of these wines] is available in Wisconsin, and Maison Noir is it. His wine is fantastic. I would carry it regardless, but it’s an extra reason to support it.”
2019 Lubanzi Chenin Blanc, $6 per can
Flavor: Mouth-watering acidity with green melon, passionfruit, lemon zest and green apple aromas
“I want people to not be afraid of cans. I want them to drink wine in a can, if it’s the right thing — I’m thinking, like, camping, picnics. If people are doing social distance gatherings outside, it makes sense, so people aren’t all sharing a bottle,” Moran says. “It’s Chenin Blanc from South Africa, and the winery itself is B-certified, so [it’s] as sustainable as it comes. The wine itself is citrusy and zesty and everything you want in a can.”
Flavor: Notes of citrus and pear with a salty minerality
“People have been interested in natural wines and the shallow end of the natural wine pool is pét-nat,” she said. “Pét-nats are basically lightly sparking wines. It’s made like a Saison, so it’s bottled before fermentation is complete. It’s slightly effervescent. They tend to be lower in alcohol. It’s soft and fruity without being sweet.”