It’s Summer. Sip This.

Pool party, barbecue, or summer soirée: Our VP of Wine Eduardo Dingler is a fixture on the Napa Valley social scene, and it seems like he discovers a new wine at every bacchanal. That’s why we went straight to him for tips on what to drink with classic summertime dishes. From a guy who never shows up without bearing bottles in both hands, these outstanding pairings will keep you slaked and satisfied all summer long.

Watermelon & Cucumber Salad with Mint Leaves and Feta

Wine Pairings: 

Takachiyo 59 Chapter 2 Aiyama Junmai Ginjo Nama Niigata

2022 Zuccardi Torrontes Serie A Salta Argentina

2018 Smith-Madrone Riesling Spring Mountain

Why These Work:

With a refreshing salad that has the richness of feta cheese, you want some juicy acidity to cut through—ideally without overpowering the watermelon. Each of these selections also has a touch of herbal freshness, perfect for complementing the mint. 

Heirloom Tomatoes with Créme Fraîche, Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper

Wine Pairing: 

2023 Vivier Wines Rosé of Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

2022 Albert Bichot Bourgogne Aligote

Why These Work:

High-acid foods call for high-acid wines—otherwise, the wines you pair will feel flat compared to the food. A vibrant rosé with a touch of umami can perfectly enhance the earthiness of the tomato, while Aligoté, a Burgundian grape far less famous than Chardonnay, plays off the crème fraîche while keeping the tomato at center stage. 

Pasta Salad with Olives, Pepperoncini, and Salami 

Wine Pairing: 

Kumaya Shuzo AN Tokubetsu Junmai Okayama

2021 Graci Etna Rosso Sicily

Why These Work:

You’ve got a peppery dish, you want a wine or sake that gives some spice back. Both this wine and the rich volcanic Etna red fit the bill, plus they have a savory element that plays well with salty olives. 

Grilled Seafood (Shrimp, Fish, Oysters) 

Wine Pairing: 

HEAVENSAKE Junmai Daiginjo Yamaguchi

2022 Ferraton Pere et Fils La Source Blanc Saint-Joseph

Why These Work:

Conventional wisdom says seafood works great with light wines, and that’s true. But grilled seafood can stand up tall next to fuller wines because they bring elements of char and smoke. Select a wine or sake with a bit more body and weight—like a voluptuous Rhône white—but be sure to steer clear of oak, which can make fish taste “fishy.”

Grilled Meats (BBQ Chicken, Steak, Baby Back Ribs) 

Wine Pairing: 

2020 Tua Rita Giusto di Notri Toscana

2018 Rewa Khanda Cabernet Sauvignon Coombsville

2019 Marcelo Pelleriti Signature Malbec Uco Valley Mendoza

Why These Work:

A wine’s gotta match the intensity of the food it’s matched with: When you have bold BBQ sauces and smokey char from the grill, you need an impactful wine in your glass. Go big with Bordeaux varieties that spend some time in oak. The toast and vanilla in the wine will accentuate any sweetness from the sauce or from caramelization, bringing a nice balance to the spice elements. 

Brown-Sugar-Grilled Peaches with Vanilla Ice Cream

Wine Pairing: 

2013 Klein Constantia Vin de Constance (500 mL)

Why This Works: This dish offers big flavor and lots of richness and power, and it screams for a wine that does the same. The Vin de Constance is dense with flavors of dried apricot, crushed hazelnuts, and caramel. A little goes a long way, and a couple ounces of this elixir can be the perfect way to end the meal.