Conspire with your friends to make the most of summer by getting unconventional with your poolside lounging.
Rather than show up to the pool party with some random red or un-chilled white wine, let these five global wines inspire the party well before applying sunscreen, lest rounds of civilized diving turn into cannonballs and splashing contests.
Arnaldo Caprai Grecante, 2012, Grechetto Colli Martani D.O.C. ($14)
Italian Stallion: So, Italy lost out in the World Cup, but you’re not about to abandon Italian wine. Underneath all those gold chains and brilliantly bronzed Italian tan (we won’t tell anyone you’re really Sicilian) is a man whose fiery temper softens with a glass of something made from the homeland. So while you stand in the shallow end, elbows resting on the concrete, tell the Italian girl next to you that she reminds you of this wine: bright and citrusy and like fresh white flowers, but with a spicy side and a slight salty quality in the finish. I have no idea where this will get you, but it’s bound to require some wading in tothe deep end.
Grape: Grechetto (a white-grape variety grown in the region of Umbria, north of Rome).
Style: Grown in soils of silt and clay, this wine is aged three months in stainless steel and three months in the bottle before release.
Find it in Los Angeles: Wine House
Domaine Skouras 2013 Moscofilero ($15)
Toga party by the pool: When in Greece: toga party. So when not in Greece, call your friends and put together some vague plans for a bikini contest that starts with a toga party. With a bottle of this Greek aphrodisiac in hand, the afternoon sun will reflect the juice in your glass: a light golden color, wafting of citrus and white floral aromas which dominate with subtle honeysuckle notes creeping in, giving way to tropical fruit character.
Grape: Moscofilero (an indigenous grape variety to the important Neméa appellation in Greece, situated on the eastern side of the Peloponnese island.)
Style: After a short period of skin contact, this wine was fermented in stainless steel and remained in contact with “fine lees.”
Find it in Los Angeles: Wine House, Wally’s, Remedy Liquor
2013 Teutonic Rosé Laurel Vineyard ($17)
Pink wine, pink bathing suits: Stop everything and throw a rosé-inspired pool party right now. Get out the pink pool floaties and ask everyone to show up wearing pink bathing suits and board shorts (yes, this will require a quick trip to the board-shorts store for most guys, but the Instagram photos will be worth it) and load up on rosé wine. This particular Oregonian rosé is medium pink in color with orange hues and offers gorgeous and enticing tropical notes on the nose. Show off your suave sense of confidence and surprising knowledge of wine by asking one some pretty lady what she thinks of the wine, and when she asks back: “What do I think? I think it’s…soft and plush…(sip, remove sun-glasses, stare into her eyes)… it’s got pretty red fruit and a real bright minerality, but marked by zesty acidity—want to talk more about this by the pool?”
Style: Barrel fermented in Neutral Oak, native yeast ferment from the Chehalem Mountains in Oregon.
Find it in Los Angeles:Domaine LA and Wine House
Alta Vista 2012 Premium Torrontés ($20)
Water Polo Wine: Imagine acres upon acres of vineyards set out in front of you, the Andes mountains within sight and a polo tournament taking place on a field abutting the vines. That’s where this wine is going to take you—so the only logical move is to break out some colored caps and let the water polo games begin. In between periods, you’ll sip on this blissfully pretty and fresh wine, teeming with fruity and floral aromatics, a honeyed nose of orange blossoms and orange muscat, bright mineral character follows through on a lingering and memorable finish. It may be more memorable than the outcome of the tournament, but there’s nothing more divine than Argentine wine, sun, a pool, and the taste of winning.
Grape: Torrontés (produced from vines planted in Cafayate in the northwest of Argentina).
Style: De-stemmed and lightly pressed, short skin-maceration for aromatic extraction, aged in stainless steel.
Find it in Los Angeles: Napa Cabs or online retailers*
Jolie-Laide 2013 Trousseau Gris ($29)
Unconventional & Impromptu: The name “Jolie-Laide” translates as “unconventional beauty” and what could be more beautiful than a still, pristinely lit pool—one no one is thinking of entering at the cocktail party? What would be more unconventional than making a scene by jumping into that pool, cocktail attire and all? You’re with me, on this, I know it. But first, make sure you’ve got someone ready with the camera to capture your glorious rise, and rather wet fall. The wine is salmon pink in color, like your date’s dress. Pretty tropical aromatics give way to a medium-bodied and rich wine, redolent of ripe peach, subtle strawberry and watermelon notes (the same fruit you’ll be having for dessert) with vibrant acidity and complex spice notes that lead to a refreshing finish ( like the way your cologne and her perfume will mingle with the chlorine and acid stare of the host, who is beside himself with both anger and a bit of envy).
Grape: Trousseau Gris (Scott Schultz, a former wine director at Bouchon, is the winemaker of this splendid skin-fermented wine from the Russian River Valley. Schultz got his feet wet learning to make wine with Pax Mahle at Wind Gap and Jolie-Laide is his own label).
Style: Aged in neutral French oak puncheons and barrel, this organic wine is whole-cluster cold soaked on the skins (which lends the pink tinge color), and undergoes natives yeast fermentation.
Find it in Los Angeles: Domaine LA and K&L Wines
*Hint: If you can’t find a retailer in your neighborhood that carries these wines, try Wine.com or Wine-searcher.com and thank me after the UPS man delivers you a mixed case of pool-elevating vino.