Wine bar managers are on the ground floor when it comes to observing how the weather affects the consumption and buying behavior of wine drinkers.
As with much of the United States, Texas has been suffering through an unprecedented heat wave, with July high temperatures hovering between 105-110. Advanced Sommelier and Neighborhood Vintner General Manager Paul Ozbirn spoke with Vintner Magazine about summer wine buying behavior to offer winemakers and tasting room managers insight about what wines are popular with on-premise wine consumers in hot climates.
VINTNER: How does wine buyer behavior differ during the summer in hot climates like Texas?
OZBIRN: As expected, we’re selling way more chilled wines (of every color) than we are the bigger, more full-bodied reds. It’s fun because the turnover is much quicker so we get to constantly taste and buy new and exciting wines. We’re slower during the day in summer so there’s more time to taste with all the reps too.
VINTNER: At Neighborhood Vintner, what sort of wines do people come in looking for during hot months? How does the heat change/influence what you recommend, if it does at all? And is there a Resign wine that is enjoying more success than the others in the portfolio?
OZBIRN: As mentioned above most guests are looking for something cold and refreshing and that’s certainly what we recommend. Heavy, high alcohol, full-bodied reds have their place at the dinner table or over the holidays but truth is our climate is just too hot for those styles. Rosé (all shades), skin-fermented whites, and plenty of sparkling wine as well as the more traditional white wines of Burgundy, the Loire, and Germany are what we’re selling. And our Resign Sauv Blanc is crushing right now!
VINTNER: What have you been selling the most of this summer in the tasting room?
OZBIRN: It’s the summer of Chenin! We’re bouncing back and forth between classic Loire Valley Chenin and South African Chenin and guests are loving it — the body of Chardonnay, the acidity of Sauv Blanc, and floral aromatics of Riesling — all in one! Also Riesling, always Riesling, forever and ever.
VINTNER: From a sommelier’s point of view, what tips would you give winemakers who are producing wines served at a tasting room or geared for a DTC audience in mild climates where there are short winters and long, hot summers?
OZBIRN: Cater to the weather for sure. Don’t be afraid to serve red wines chilled down a bit, not as cold as the whites or sparkling, but definitely chilled. And lean into lighter, more red-fruited varietals that grow well in warm climates such as Cinsault, Grenache, and Tempranillo or heartier (yet not particularly heavy) dark-fruited Mediterranean varietals like Carignan or Mourvèdre. Also, less new oak is key so the wines don’t come off as sweet (from lactone) or with a grainy, scratchy texture (from tannin).