These French Wines Were Practically Made For Summer Sipping

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If a Parisian vacation is off the menu this summer because of the upcoming Summer Olympics, you’re in luck. There’s still a way to channel a getaway by indulging in a bevy of diverse French wines. From northeastern Alsace to the Loire Valley to Champagne, there’s no shortage of unique wine-producing regions and varietals to keep your tastebuds tantalized.

While it can be sacrilege to even think about drinking red wine that isn’t room temp, chilled French reds offer familiar grapes with a brand-new tasting experience. White wine enthusiasts can also expect no shortage of très magnifique flavor profiles from an array of grapes that favor both the crisp and bold. And everyone knows rosé is a given this time of year, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. And of course, what’s a summer night without some Champs?

Ready to become a full-blown French wine connoisseur? Ahead, a comprehensive guide to perfect pours that will keep the body temp and the vibes chill all summer.

Chilled Reds

Aside from relief from the summer heat, what is the significance of chilling French red wines? Marcela Colonna, head sommelier at The Modern in NYC, has the answer: “When a red wine is chilled, the fruity aromas are enhanced, but [so is] its structure,” she says. To determine which varietals should be served chilled versus at room temperature, she has a trick. “Usually, low-extraction French red wines that look a bit paler rather than opaque and that have low tannins can and should be chilled.”

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Linda Huang, the floor sommelier at Roscioli in New York City, shares her picks to cool down. “Pinot noir, gamay, cabernet Franc, and cinsault are the best red wine varietals for summer, due to their lower tannin and [alcohol by volume (ABV)] levels, both of which correlate and contribute to the perceived ‘body of a wine,” she explains. Each of these varietals is brighter in aromatics like red berry tones and florals, and when these wines are “in their youth,” they may be more refreshing to consumers, she believes.

Just because you’re putting a bottle in the fridge doesn’t mean it’s a free-for-all. Chilled red wine suffers a bit from Goldilocks syndrome in that the temperature needs to be just right. “If the wine is too cold, the aromas will be muted, and all that may show are the structural components — alcohol, acidity, and tannin, which may not be as enjoyable without the aromas. The wine may seem astringent and off-balance,” Huang shares.

Colonna has a magic number/temperature that she prefers for serving these French wines cold. “I am a big fan of chilling all my red wines to 55 degrees Fahrenheit,” she reveals. There are of course always exceptions to the rule. “If I decide to chill them more than that, it is a fruit-forward wine, like beaujolais.”

White Wines

It can be easy to lump French white wines together, but each varietal has a diverse flavor profile to bring to the table, especially when enjoying a day in the summer sun. Rodrigo Zamorano Young, estate director at Domaine Hubert Brochard, provides some insight about his white wine hit list for the summer.

Sauvignon Blanc

“Sauvignon blanc has nice acidity and freshness, minerality and saltiness. Some can be quite fruity and floral, and of course normally with some citrus flavors,” Young explains of the wine with Bordeaux origins that has been around for centuries. This varietal’s flavors and aromas are deeply reflective of its growing conditions


While all Sancerre is sauvignon blanc, not all sauvignon blancs are Sancerre. This appellation is marked by its vibrancy, crispness, zesty citrus, and herbal flavors, and it is a bit more refreshing than a traditional sauvy B.

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This varietal makes Young’s favorites list mostly because of “its nice acidity and minerality,” he says. “It is a bit more neutral in the nose but can be very enjoyable at cold temperatures because of its juicy and pungent palate feeling.”

Chenin Blanc

Made from a white grape of the same name, chenin blanc is one Young appreciates for “its freshness, nice complexity, and richness,” he shares. The wine ranges from pale straw to pale amber in color, and it is a great accompaniment for a social occasion with or without food.


Young admits this varietal isn’t as well-known as most of the others, but it does have similar characteristics to savagnin. This varietal holds its own as bold, herbaceous, with heavy forward notes of cut grass, giving it the nickname “mountain fresh”


He notes the “nice minerality and complex reductive aromas,” of this Alsace-produced wine, which is produced both dry and sweet.


No one needs convincing to drink rosé all day or throughout the summer, but it may be helpful to know what kinds of rosés are better suited for sipping in warmer weather. Rosé can vary in pinkness from pale to magenta, and it can be made from different grapes from different parts of the country. But in Victor Joyeux’s book, it’s all about grenache-noir-based rosés from regions like Provence. “They are ideal for summer due to their refreshing acidity, delicate fruitiness, and light body,” he explains. Joyeux is the technical director at Château d'Estoublon. He continues by saying that these rosés often feature flavors of strawberries, raspberries, and citrus, which are synonymous with summer.

“Every region has its unique charm and personality, but currently, I’m particularly fond of Coteaux Varois en Provence rosés. These wines stand out due to their slightly inland location and higher altitude, which imbues them with crispness and minerality, perfect for refreshing summer enjoyment.”


Champagne & Sparkling Wine

There’s no better way to cool off than sipping on a glass… or two… or three... of bubbly, oui? For those unaware of the distinction between French bubble beverages, it’s all in the name. Champagne and sparkling wines like crémant are made using the same method, but only wine produced in the Champagne region of France can take on the moniker; otherwise, it’s considered sparkling wine.

For this time of year, Joyeux is partial to effervescent elixirs like young brut Champagne or crémant made from chardonnay or pinot noir grapes. “[They] offer a perfect balance of acidity and fruitiness,” he says.

François-Régis de Fougeroux, general manager at Langlois, seconds the crémant recommendation, calling them “fantastic wines for summer” as they “feature very fine bubbles that enhance the refreshing quality of the wine.” He continues by singing the praises of the Loire region, famous for its rosé wines, adding that he hopes people try the varietal that combines these two fan favorites into a vibrant summer refresher: Crémant de Loire, using local cabernet Franc grapes and the traditional Champagne production method to create a sparkling rosé varietal. He hopes this wine garners the seasonal attention it deserves because of its “beautiful pink color and vibrant red fruit flavors, perfect for summer.”

French Wines For Summer Rules Of Thumb

With so many French varietals to explore, it can feel overwhelming to choose the right bottle. Starting with chilled reds, Travis Padilla, sommelier at Il Buco Alimentari and Vineria, says everything you need to know is already in front of you. “Look for labels that mention light body, unique flavors, and high acidity. Biodynamic or natural wine labels are also great indicators,” he advises. “If you see descriptors like ‘crisp,’ ‘fresh,’ or ‘vibrant,’ it’s likely a good choice for chilling.”

His second tip is crystal clear. “Some of these wines are not meant to age, so they are put in clear bottles, which itself is an indicator,” as opposed to darker bottles red wine typically comes in.

When shopping for a French white or rosé wine in the warmer months, Joyeux says, it’s about location, location, location. “Pay attention to the regions known for producing high-quality, refreshing wines. For white wines, regions like the Loire Valley, Burgundy, and Alsace are excellent choices. These areas are famous for their crisp and mineral-driven wines, often made from sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, and riesling grapes. For rosé wines, the Provence region stands out for its light, dry, and aromatic offerings that are ideal for hot weather.”

He recommends shoppers also look for key terms. “White wine labels that mention terms like ‘Sancerre,’ ‘Pouilly-Fumé,’ or ‘Chablis’ can be good indicators of a crisp and refreshing choice. Regarding rosé wines, labels from Provence or those specifying grape varieties such as grenache, cinsault, or syrah are typically reliable picks.”

When shopping for a French sparkling wine or Champagne, de Fougeroux says the first order of business is to “check for the ‘Champagne AOC’ appellation on the label to ensure authenticity and quality. For other sparkling wines, Crémant de Loire is a great alternative, made using the same traditional method as Champagne,” he recommends. If it doesn’t say ‘traditional method,’ it might not be top quality. “Look for information on grape varietal breakdown, dosage, and vineyard sourcing — hand-harvested grapes and extended aging on lees are quality indicators as well. A pale color often suggests a refreshing profile, ideal for summer.”

Ahead, expert-approved French wines to sip whether you’re hosting a summer soirée or enjoying the spectacle of the Summer Olympics from your sofa.