Opti ng for Alfresco
What to sip when the mercury climbs? Wynn Director of Wine Mark Thomas shares his ultimate patio picks.
Whether indulging in a sunny poolside perch beneath a shady umbrella at Tableau, sitting beneath the twinkly lights on Botero’s patio on a starry night, or dining on Sinatra’s secluded garden patio, Wynn’s wide-open options for great outdoor ambience are as elegant as they are plentiful—as are the bottles that enhance them. “When I think about outdoor wines,” says Wynn Director of Wine Mark Thomas, “the ones that quickly come to mind are dry rosés from the South of France and unoaked whites like sauvignon blanc, grüner veltliner, and dry riesling.” Each, of course, is guaranteed to make you feel as cool as a summer breeze, but what is it about these wines that make us crave them in the warmer weather? The key, in a word, is balance. “Wines high in acidity, like a sauvignon blanc or a grüner, leave you with a tactile sense, like eating citrus fruit or a ripe, raw tomato, with a feeling of leftover moisture and acidity in your mouth. Wines with that balance of acidity, although still remaining not too astringent, are key,” says Thomas. That structural scaffolding of acidity, if you will, is the basis of making these wines dining multitaskers. “For summery dishes, you’re looking at lighter flavors and ingredients, so you really want to look for foodfriendly wines that will not overpower the dish,” Thomas advises. “Oaked whites can overpower a light salad or chilled seafood. Look for wines with more of that quality we call minerality, more acidity, and lighter, fruitier aromatics.” One of his preferred pairings at Botero is a Washington State–based Bordeaux-style blend of sauvignon blanc and sémillon from Delille Cellars with the lunchtime offering of Dungeness crab sliders. White wines from Piedmont are great for summer, Thomas says—the very same region from which Sinatra Executive Chef Theo Schoenegger
“Look for wines with minerality, acidity, and lighter, fruitier aromatics.”— mark thomas
hails. Thomas pairs Sinatra’s grilled branzino with La Scolca’s Gavi dei Gavi 2011, a flinty, complex wine made from the Piedmont-exclusive Cortese grapes, sourced from the estate’s 60-year-old vines. But pink is perhaps the summer sipper’s truest companion. Let the depth of color be your cue. Lighter styles are better with lighter foods; deeper colors go with heartier foods. “I would go back to rosés for grilled meats—heartier ones, though, like from the Rhône Valley in France instead of Languedoc or Provence,” says Thomas. “They still have tannins and give you that body and weight, as well as a little higher alcohol level, which means your food won’t overpower your wine.” Light, summertime sipping is all about enjoying your surroundings, after all. “Really, I think it’s a matter of having some flavor there,” Thomas says. “Cocktails are great, but with wine, there’s an experience that goes along with it. l can sip a rosé and think about sitting out on a patio in the South of France and enjoying the warm weather.” But, Thomas offers, a pretty patio in Las Vegas is awfully nice, too. n