Summer 2020 is going to be different than those that have come before it. Instead of block parties, we’re opting for pared-down backyard barbecues. Instead of graduation parties, we’re cooking an intimate dinner with the family. However, these swaps we’re making as we take social-distancing protocols into account do not mean that we can’t have a great time—we just have to get more creative.
An easy way to up the ante on a low-key activity is to experiment with food and beverages. We tapped winemakers from two wineries, Penfolds in Australia and the Joseph Phelps Vineyard in the Napa Valley, to share their expertise on wine and food pairings for every (socially distanced) summertime activity. Whether you’re snuggling up for a cozy movie night or finding new ways to celebrate milestones, they’ve shared ways to excite your palate at even the simplest event.
On a sunny day, grab a basket, a blanket, and a few friends, and head to the nearest patch of grass.
“I often meet friends/guests in our picturesque vineyards late morning for an early lunch, and the Bin 51 Riesling is my fail-safe. At this time of day we crave crispness, a crunch in terms of texture and energy, which comes in the form of vibrant citrus. Smoked-salmon blinis with crème fraiche are classic and without pretense. For high impact, fresh lobster sandwiches using sourdough bread and homemade lemon mayonnaise creates a sense of occasion.” —Steph Dutton, Penfolds Senior Winemaker
“The 2019 Joseph Phelps Sauvignon Blanc is a delicious sip for a summer picnic. This fresh, vibrant white wine pairs well with a variety of summer salads or a platter of goat-cheese crostini.” —Ashley Hepworth, Joseph Phelps Vineyards Winemaker
Invite the members of your “social bubble” to your backyard for a fun evening spent around the grill.
“The Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz. Quintessentially Penfolds and characteristically Australian. If you are lucky enough to be able to obtain an entire grass-fed eye fillet, all you need to do is ensure that it is well seasoned before barbecuing. Warm evenings for barbecues always conjure up images of in-season spring vegetables and carving at the table. Think chargrilled asparagus drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil, mustard greens, and radishes.” —Steph Dutton
“The 2017 Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon is a perfect wine for an evening barbecue. Its generous dark fruit and tannin structure complements grilled vegetables with an herb dip, steaks, chops, and sausages.” —Ashley Hepworth
There are a lot of reasons to celebrate—birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, etc., are the perfect occasion for something bubbly.
“The 2012 Thiénot x Penfolds Chardonnay Pinot Noir Cuvee. Champagne is my guilty pleasure—the wine that I am ALWAYS in the mood for. This means that I am constantly using this wine to mark occasions and create everlasting memories. It’s common to hear from people that they are afraid to open a special bottle that they’ve been holding on to for an occasion. However, I also hear (almost just as frequently) stories of missed opportunities where moments have passed them by. Don’t hesitate reaching for something (emotionally or financially) significant, because it will pay you back in spades. Keep the food simple—in-season oysters with a shallot-and-mirin dressing.” —Steph Dutton
Indoor Movie Night
When it gets a little too hot outside, head indoors for a cozy night with one of the movies that has bypassed the theaters and gone straight to OnDemand.
“The Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz. If there is one thing that recent events have taught me, it’s the significance of comfort, but being able to elevate the experience to keep the mood buoyant. Bin 28 exudes comfort due to its berry-driven generosity. Pappardelle with a slow-cooked ragu, packed with fresh Italian herbs added just before service, is the perfect stay-at-home match.” —Steph Dutton
“A summer movie night would not be complete without a glass of 2017 Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon, or try 2018 Joseph Phelps Pinot Noir Freestone Vineyards, which is from our Sonoma Coast estate. Both wines are delicious to sip on their own and versatile enough to pair well with a cheese-and-charcuterie plate, roasted nuts, and homemade potato chips.” —Ashley Hepworth
Photos: Courtesy of Joseph Phelps Vineyards and Penfolds
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