I don’t often write about drinking. I usually write about “wine” and “process” and “place.” I’ve even written more than once about not drinking. But those of us who feel that there’s more to wine than “what’s in the glass,” who feel enough emotional, psychological, historical and aesthetic power emanating from wine to want to render that feeling in print … well, we hold a rarely stated assumption that to write about the direct act of drinking a lot of wine is beneath us.

Every once in a while my pretensions lift, though, my hopes for transcendence abate, and I’m carried away by the simple but thrilling sensation that I don’t wish to put my glass down. It’s not about getting drunk, though like almost everyone, I enjoy (the initial stages of) getting drunk. It’s more about what it feels like to get carried away.

There are wines that change you, wines that please you, wines that make you think, wines that redefine your sense of beauty, wines that invite you to travel, wines that draw you closer to loved ones, wines that make it special to be alone. Then, there are the wines that simply, directly and with stunning purity of purpose just ask you to keep drinking.

Drinking a lot in the summer is different from drinking a lot in cold weather. A lot of suggestions for summertime wine focus on the carefree thing, which too often leads to the quality-free thing. The message seems to be: if you get this wine cold enough, you won’t know it’s mediocre and it’ll be … fine.

That’s not what I’m after here. The wines listed here are actually serious. They’re genuine wines, true wines, by which I mean they have unique flavor profiles and are produced on a small enough scale, with great enough care, that you can sense someone’s good intentions went into it. You can taste that soft, helpful human touch.

In fact, a lot of the wine often promoted as ideal to buy by the case and drink copiously all summer is exhausting. It’s exhausting because it’s made by machines (literally), after test marketing, demographic targeting and flavor tweaking performed by people who idolize machines.

Those wines, which usually contain unlisted ingredients you’d never knowingly consume, have a brittle, unyielding nature. They run a bit roughshod through your mouth, like a military-industrial complex where the weaponry has been manufactured and so must be employed.

My list of drink-now-and-drink-a-lot wines is peace-loving. The wines I like to guzzle are supple, charming, quirky, humble. They are low in alcohol (except when they’re not, but for good reasons), and they’re unoaked, since the only good reason to use oak is to increase structure and ageability, which is not relevant for these wines.

They have a distinct juiciness, by which I don’t mean “sweet” or “fruity” or anything specific in a flavor sense. Juiciness is a lightness of touch, a fluidity, a cooling effect, an absence of hard edges and confrontation. Most of all these express harmony, a hard-to-describe inner balance.

Crnko Jareninčan 2014, $12. This wine taught me that personalized definition of “juicy.” It’s an 11 percent alcohol field blend (grapes harvested together and cofermented) of yellow Muscat, chardonnay, pinot blanc, Muscat ottonel, Laski riesling, riesling and pinot gris. It comes in a liter bottle with a beer-bottle-style crown cap. It’s an ode to joy, a floral-fragrant and happy wine that manages to cut to the chase with a wet-stone mineral slice. Incredibly refreshing, keep it comin’ keep it comin.’

Lustau “Jarana” Fino sherry, $18. Wait, what? Sherry, to guzzle? Not quite. At 15 percent alcohol (the low end for sherry, but still …), guzzling would be imprudent. But this satin-soft gem, laced with notes of toasted almond, watercress and jamón, invites sip after grateful sip. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting a Castelvetrano olive, buttery and briny and garden-fresh all at the same time, you have some sense of the pleasure this wine gives. I’m preparing to write a column on fino and manzanilla sherry, and have found so many to adore, but this easygoing beauty is perfect when all you want to do is eat simply and drink deep.

Clos Alivu Patrimonio Rosé 2014, $19. The wines of Corsica, like so many from island homes, combine breezy freshness with geological complexity. This dry pink wine, from Niellucciu grapes grown on 50-year-old vines, is an almost garish, pale fluorescent pink, but comes through straight and serious. The maquis, Corsica’s wild-bush expression of the fragrant herb flora expression that in the Rhône is called garrigue, comes through, in a clean, flexible package. It’s supremely fine and round in the mouth, satisfying in the way only rosé can be: simultaneously buxom and gauzy.

Cleto Chiarli Vigneto Cialdini Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro NV, $14. Cognitive dissonance time. When I pour a chilled, deep magenta-colored wine with a nice head of foam into your glass, you will think “ugh!” or “what the …? or “party!” But you probably won’t expect something as serious as this. Lambrusco is softly effervescent pink or red wine, from the universally acknowledged food capital region of Italy, Emilia-Romagna. There, they drink it with almost everything good: salty, cured meats; fatty sausage; pasta bolognese; soft cheeses; tomato salads; things with lots of garlic.

This wine, from the Grasparossa grape (there are many different Lambrusco grapes) in the Grasparossa region (there are eight different Lambrusco DOCs), is on the fuller/drier/bitterer/herbier end of the spectrum, and packs a wallop of succulent power. But it’s still just 11 percent alcohol: Invite several friends over to the patio, lay out some plates of charcuterie and other casual food, or a bowl of pasta bolognese, and have several bottles on hand, cold.

It’s the sort of soft, medium-bodied dry red for under $20 that you always want Italian wine to be but so often isn’t. Its food-happy demeanor, willingness to take a little chill in the fridge, and silky feel in the mouth are inimitably Piedmontese, so fine and winsome. Each sip is more refreshing and tender than the last, and you seem to feel less drunk on it as the night goes on. Cheers!

Joe Appel is the wine buyer at Rosemont Market. He can be reached at:

[email protected]


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