The heat and humidity of an east coast summer annually hovers first in my purely emotional memory, triggering recollections of trips back to New Jersey to see my parents’ families, hearing thunderstorms, the blue of an evening with the sun just down, and catching fireflies—those mystic little beings foreign to our home in Hawaii. Gradually, though, reality surfaces with a sigh of recognition. Oh, this again, I think, sweating through another shirt and wishing for a breeze on days that feel akin to the inside of a mouth.
Not to mislead you, I do in fact love the summertime and all of its accoutrements: watermelon, corn, tomatoes, berries, barbecues, crispy cold white wine and sangrias of all sorts, gin and tonics. But living in Baltimore, I’m learning, means beating the extreme seasons into the minds and hearts of its citizens till they begin to pull on their hair and bite their nails, pretending that 82 degrees means “wear a cardigan outside” and that making preserves is a pleasant afternoon activity. To be clear, I have done both in the past few days. Does this make me local yet?
In any case, it’s time to start thinking about that transition and shifting our wine radars from porch pounders to snuggly sippers, but it doesn’t have to be a blind leap. Here are a few great options for this in-between time to help ease you out of your swim suits and back into your corduroys. Do people still wear corduroys? Never mind. You know what I mean.
Savoy is a region located at the beginning of the south of France, to the east border against the French Alps and in the general vicinity of Geneva. It’s success as a region relies pretty heavily on the ski industry and the restaurants that feed it and though it’s home to some familiar varieties, like Pinot Noir or Gamay, most of the grapes that end up in Savoie wines—white, red, pink, and sparkling—are pretty obscure. The sparklers are identified by the degree to which they sparkle: mousseux indicates a substantial bubble (as in Vin de Savoie Mousseux AOC, the more specifically classification of this genre), and petillant will indicate less bubble, more like a slight fizz.
Why it works: We’re not talking big money here, and though it may be a bit of a challenge to find, it’s not hard to front the cash. So while there may be no national holiday to celebrate, there are plenty of reasons to pop some bubbly. My favorite excuse is that perfect Saturday brunch scenario when everyone has slept in a little too late and there’s no rush to get anywhere and the weather is hovering just before warm. Just this past weekend we popped a bottle of Savoie bubbles with some buckwheat pancakes and preserves, a mildly Alpine breakfast offset by the crisp, waxy apple and mineral flavors of the wine.