#29 The summer

In a season fueled by hard seltzer and soft beer, you’ll may find a little revival in selected white and rose wines plus cocktails. It’s worth the search.


So, visit Italy by the glass if not by airplane.

A first-class ticket: the delightful, dependable 2019 Gavi dei Gavi La Scolca Black Label (★★★★ $42). Lush, dry, this white from Piedmont, made with the Cortese grape, is enjoyable year-round. But it’s especially welcome starting in late summer. The straw-hued, crisp wine delivers fine acidity, balance, and suggestions of citrus and hazelnut. Try it with finfish, such as sole or flounder, and with white meat.

Three lively wines from the Sicilia DOC consortium are very summery sippers and satisfying with light seafood dishes. These whites from Sicily’s major appellation can be refreshing poolside or at the beach.

Look for the floral 2019 Principi di Butera Carizza Insolia (★★ $17), which arrives from Caltanissetta with a hint of tropical fruit and almonds. Ideal with grilled or lightly sauced seafood. The 2020 DiGiovanna Vurria Grillo (★★ $21.95) boasts lots of citrus as well as tropical fruit. The gilded wine is a match for grilled shellfish and is a fine partner for Asian fare, including Thai and Japanese. And the 2018 Stemmari Dalila Riserva (★ $13) is an uncomplicated, easygoing sipper that easily could accompany a seafood salad.

From the Friulli producer is the 2019 Attems Sauvignon Blanc (★★ $20), an herbaceous, balanced, medium-bodied wine that may remind you of a Sancerre. The fruity, Venezia Giulia wine hints of green apple. This sauvignon blanc is lithe and appealing on its own, or with fried seafood, salads, and grilled pork or chicken. A match for pesto and pastas with seafood, too.

No name is more associated with pinot grigio in the United States than Santa Margherita, a pioneering Terlato import. The Santa Margherita brand also contributed significantly to the prosecco boom. The repertoire now has expanded to include the 2020 Santa Margherita Rose (★★ $24.95). The rosato from Tre Venezie is defined by red fruit. The balanced rose can be served with everything from appetizers and salads to grilled seafood and grilled meat.


La Grand Verre focuses on its wines but also its serving size. Each slender bottle holds 6.3 ounces, a bit more than the standard six-ounce pour.

More important, the wines are good and approachable. Besides, you get a tasty drink without uncorking a 750ml or 375mil bottle. A four-pack ranges from $20 to $30.

The wines include the LGV 2019 Chateau Peyredon (★★ $30 four-pack), a red Bordeaux that’s mostly cabernet sauvignon and offers notes of cassis; and the 2020 Domaine Caylus Chardonnay (★★ $25 four-pack), 2020 Domaine Caylus Rose (★ $25 four-pack), and 2020 Chateau Val d’Arenc (★★ $30 four-pack). The Val d’Arenc is a charming and food-friendly Bandol rose.


The canned cocktail business gets a boost from Tanqueray. The very popular gin now offers a trio of well-crafted gin cocktails in cans.

Choices include the familiar, crisp, balanced, straightforward gin and tonic that’s made with Tanqueray Dry Gin and a satisfying, fragrant tonic; the citrusy, fruity Tanqueray Sevilla Orange Gin & Soda; and Tanqueray Rangpur Lime Gin & Soda, a distinctive and invigorating cocktail with gin distilled with Rangpur limes that has a note of ginger.

The 12-oz. cans have 6 percent alcohol by volume. A four-pack is $14.99.


The palette of Johnnie Walker blended Scotch whisky is splashed by the exceptional Blue and the popular Black and Red. Earlier this year, exclusively in Houston, another was introduced: Johnnie Blonde.

As the name suggests, it’s a less formal production. Sweeter than the standards and very accessible, it’s a summery Scotch blended for a hot day, ready for the rocks or soda, and certainly for a youthful party. Johnnie Blonde is much more Rio Grande than River Spey. But that’s a modest concern. The Scotch is 40 percent alcohol by volume. A 750ml bottle is $24.99.


That would be Ciroc Coconut, a new taste for the popular producer. It’s surely made for cocktails and no doubt would contribute to a high-octane update of the pina colada. You’ll skip the rum and cut down on the coconut milk. Ciroc suggests a “Kickback Colada,” with jalapeno, watermelon, and lime juice going with Ciroc Coconut. A bottle of Ciroc Coconut is in the $40-$44.99 range.


Rhum Barbancourt Estate Reserve (★★★ $55) is a refined number, 15 years old and made entirely with sugarcane. You could enliven a cocktail with it, but the oak-aged Estate Reserve works smoothly as a sipper. It’s 86 proof. You’ll find a trace of maple and coconut, cinnamon, pepper, and sweet citrus, too, in an elegant package Rhum Barbancourt has been made in Haiti since 1862.

St. Lucia Distillers presents a vibrant Chairman’s Legacy (★★ $43) rum. It’s made with sugarcane and molasses and comes across with hints of vanilla and ginger. You could make it the source of a cocktail. But the rum is best neat or with one big ice cube.


The summer movie has long been its own genre, even though the best ones entertain and even enlighten all year long. Isn’t “Jaws” (1975), which created the contemporary template, as much a magnet before Christmas as it is Memorial Day weekend?

Of course, a lot of summer movies are remembered less in their entirety than for parts and performances. Delmer Daves’ “A Summer Place” (1959) is recalled for the title theme and the record single of it by Percy Faith. Robert Mulligan’s “Summer of ‘42” (1971) won an Oscar for Michel Legrand’s original music score, and Jennifer O’Neill had the right presence. You could classify “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (1986) and “National Lampoon’s Vacation” (1983) as summer films. Same for “Something’s Gotta Give” (2003), which starred, in addition to Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton, a grand, oceanside Hamptons house; the original “Ghostbusters” (1984), for an NYC hot summer; and Sidney Lumet’s “Dog Day Afternoon” (1975 for a hotter one. Add “American Graffiti” (1973), directed by George Lucas and released four years before the declaration of “Star Wars” (1977).

But there are two must-see summer movies.

“The Endless Summer” (1966) is documentary director Bruce Brown’s classic ode to surfing and the quest for the perfect wave. It never grows old. And its many contributions include a great movie poster, a mini-poster of which currently is on sale on posteritati.com for $2,000. Even if you’ve never considered surfing and get the shakes just watching the Olympians in the wavy pool, it’s terrific.

The essential movie of this season, and more, however, is David Lean’s “Summertime” (1955), a love story both bittersweet and exhilarating, simple and complex, emotional and pensive, starring Katharine Hepburn, Rossano Brazzi, and Venice. The film is based on Arthur Laurents’ play,  “The Time of the Cuckoo.” But this really is Lean’s show, made years after the intimacy of “Brief Encounter” and before his epics “The Bridge on the River Kwai” and “Lawrence of Arabia.” You can think of it as a time capsule, but it’s a timeless one. Summertime, indeed.


For 34 years, Peter Gianotti reviewed wines, spirits, restaurants, and books at Newsday. He twice won Press Club of New York awards for food writing. Before he became a food critic, Gianotti was a Washington correspondent, a financial writer, and New York City reporter for the newspaper. His books include “Food Lovers’ Guide to Long Island” and “A Guide to Long Island Wine Country.” Gianotti received his B.A. from Fordham University, where he taught journalism; and his M.S. from Columbia University, where he also was a Bagehot Fellow. Harry, his Creamsicle-hued assistant, prefers the bouquets of riesling and pinot noir.

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