Something about summer makes people want to lighten up in terms of food and wine. In San Antonio’s scorching summer heat, restaurants see patrons choosing salads over stews and when it comes to libations, customers want choices that won’t feel heavy on their palates.
“When it’s 100 degrees outside, people want something light, refreshing and citrusy,” describes Bohanan’s Sommelier Fabien Jacob, who, in addition to being a Certified Sommelier, also holds the prestigious Specialist of Wine certification. “The problem is, we are creatures of habit, and unless you are familiar with wines, it can be difficult to make a switch.” That’s where an experienced sommelier like Jacob can help. With such highly regarded titles under his belt, it is clear that Jacob that this French native knows his wines. From white to sparkling and even a light red, Jacob offers his top five recommendations for what to pour during these long, hot days and sultry summer nights.
Wind Gap Trousseau Gris
If you enjoy a good Riesling, you will enjoy this zesty white wine from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma. With the aroma of pineapple and a blend of stone fruit flavors and white pepper, it is known for its superb texture and acidity. Although it holds its own when enjoyed solo, Jacob recommends pairing it with oysters on the half shell for a light happy hour treat.
La Caña Albariño
This citrusy white with its tropical notes is made in Spain and is known for a very clean finish. One of Jacob’s personal favorites, it is the perfect accompaniment to a chicken caesar salad, or a light fish such as grilled salmon.
Vietti Barbera D’Asti
Although you might not think of red wines in summertime, this delicious, dry, medium bodied selection from Italy will change your mind. With the aroma of ripe, red cherries and a hint of vanilla, it plays well with almost all Italian pastas, as well as heavier salads.
Whispering Angel Rosé
The pale pink color of this rosé is almost as lovely as the picturesque region of Provence, France from where it originates. Jacob describes it as having a strawberry flavor, a raspberry acidity and a white pepper finish. This blend compliments fish dishes and grilled vegetables beautifully, enhancing rather than overpowering the flavors.
Contadi Castaldi Franciacorta
The beautiful thing about sparkling wines is that they can be paired with any food, due to the fact that each sip cleanses the palate. This buttery, nutty blend from Northern Italy is no exception. With flavors of ripe peaches and pears, it finishes clean and dry like champagne. In fact, according to Jacob, the only difference in this sparkling wine and champagne is that is it aged much longer to reduce the acidity and bring out the fruity flavors.
Jacob has been in the restaurant business since the age of 12, working at his parent’s restaurant in his hometown of Dunkirk, France. He discovered wine at the age of 16, realized he had an affinity for it, and began his journey to sommelier. For nearly two years, he has overseen Bohanan’s award-winning wine list, and has made it easy for customers from the oenophile to the neophyte to navigate by categorizing the wines and including the characteristics of each.
“I’m continually fascinated by the world of wine,” Jacob says, adding that it doesn’t feel like a job to him, but rather “a passion he gets paid for.” That fascination has led to extensive learning and training that Jacob is always happy to pass along to the customer, especially in regards to trying something new. When it comes to making a seasonal switch, he says the biggest rule is to not be afraid to ask questions. “Explain to the sommelier what you like,” he advises. “Then he or she can suggest something that is similar in profile but that is a bit lighter or more citrus in flavor. It’s a great way to discover a new wine.”