Just as a fashionista switches from pointy-toed to open-toed at the sign of warm weather, the wine lover hides away (most of) her hearty reds in search of something lighter.
Wines just right for sipping on the veranda (even if only a mental one) are not only pleasing to the palate, but soothing to the mind.
The go-to warm-weather wines of California - sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, ros?and chardonnay - typically offer the balanced acidity and low alcohol levels required to be refreshing on their own, or as a delightful pairing with lighter fare.
Pinot grigio, also called pinot gris, a varietal circuitously related to pinot noir, is a crisp, light white wine ideal with grilled vegetables, cheeses and assorted hors d'oeuvres, especially antipasto.
Beringer is making an estate pinot grigio for the first time.
"I wanted to make a California-style pinot grigio, loaded with fruit-salad characteristics, but also bright, crisp and refreshing," said winemaker Mary Sullivan.
"When I pick up a glass, I am immediately drawn to the passion fruit and jasmine aromas, followed with wonderful honeydew, grapefruit and kiwi flavors."
Fruity ros? have long dominated in the sunnier regions of France, particularly the southern Rhone and into Provence, where a seafood dish wouldn't be complete without a glass or two.
Unlike most hot-weather wines, ros? (rosatos in Italy) are made from red wine grapes, but end up taking on a pinkish hue when the juice is pressed off or "bled" away from the skins before much of the red color is soaked in.
California is becoming a startlingly good place for ros?these days, made by a range of producers from a range of grape varietals (merlot and sangiovese are popular) in a range of reddish colors.
Certain producers are committed enough to ros?to have formed a group - RAP, the Ros?Avengers and Producers - whose goal it is to "right the wrongs done to dry ros?" The wrongs include overly sweet "blush" or "pink" wines that have long given ros?a bad name.
Winemaker Jeff Morgan, who recently wrote, "Ros? A Guide to the World's Most Versatile Wine," is a founding member of RAP and the producer of SoloRosa wines, a ros?only house.
"While it has long been enjoyed across the Atlantic, here in the U.S. the appealing, crisp yet dry, lively wine is just gaining momentum as a popular spring and summer drink," he explained.
"It's fun, accessible and goes well with any type of dish."
That includes spicy barbecue fare. Master sommelier Andrea Robinson likes ros? with Mexican dishes and Tex Mex, saying that style of food requires a rich enough wine to beat the chili heat, complement the spark of lime and match the richness and body of avocado and cheese.
"Dry ros?has the fruity intensity and spice of the red grapes from which it's made, but (with) the lively acidity and refreshment of a white."
She also recommends sauvignon blanc with spicy food, saying fum?blanc, in particular, provides a good match. Fum?blanc is a common name for sauvignon blanc wines that have been barrel-fermented.
"It's the sauvignon blanc grape, with lively acidity and a nice cilantro-like herbaceousness," Robinson explained. "But with richness from barrel fermentation and aging."
Sauvignon blanc is also a classic match for oysters and even summertime salads and veggies, with its subtle fruit and delicate mineral characteristics.