Summer wines: light and fruity pleasure for warm days


Marketing and salespeople have long asked themselves: Are wine consumption habits related to the season and when are which wines consumed? And beyond that: Are there any recipes or blueprints for types of wine that people especially like to drink in summer — what we like to call summer wines? After all, failing to promptly identify trends in the wine market can have real sales consequences for vintners, vineyards, wine producers and dealers.

When considering the relationship between wines and seasons, our first thought often goes to the classic mulled wine. When the days grow shorter, the nights longer and the temperatures dip, this is the beginning of prime time for mulled wine. At the height of the season, when some 3,000 Christmas markets herald the start of Advent in Germany, sales reach their peak. Experienced retailers know: the lower the temperatures, the higher the consumption of mulled wine.

On the other hand, warm temperatures in summertime call for something cool and fruity, and that’s exactly what the wine industry offers its customers during the summer months.

Light and fruity: summer wines with the right kind of marketing

In a survey on summer wines for the trade journal WEINWIRTSCHAFT, Simon Weiss, marketing manager of wine distributor Mack & Schühle, described what makes summer wines so special: “White wines with a fresh and fruity focus that have just the right amount of residual sweetness to be called dry are the clear trend among consumers. For simple drinking pleasure, especially when temperatures are rising, the choice is increasingly falling to primarily fruity bouquet varieties.”

The wines should also have a moderate alcohol content and stay below the 12 percent by volume limit if possible. In addition, they should also have the right look and exude that “summer feeling” — a reason why the wines are often packaged in white glass bottles, which consumers perceive as being lighter. A great deal of sales psychology goes into marketing summer wines. Labeling and label design are likewise important factors. Summer images, flowers, blossoms and soft pastel colors signal summertime enjoyment.

Focus on fruity bouquet varieties

Summer wines also need names that capture consumers’ attention — especially when these wines are supposed to sell themselves off the self-service wine shelf. That’s why wines such as the “Sommercuvée” have been around for years: The wine was developed for the REWE supermarket chain by Mack & Schühle together with two vintners from the Rhine-Hesse wine-growing region. It has a lower alcohol content of 11.5 percent by volume and is produced with Sauvignon Blanc and Müller-Thurgau grape varieties. These grapes have the substantially fruity flavor that consumers are looking for in summer. The wine should be served well chilled.

Connoisseurs can enjoy summer wines best when chilled. The “sparkling wine on ice” principle now established in the effervescent wine market has carried over to the general wine market. Especially well suited are summery, fruity wines that are ideal for combining with ice and/or fruit. Wine or sparkling wine cocktails or sparkling water and wine spritzers are also popular among consumers.

Especially popular in the summer months are bouquet varieties such as Scheurebe, Müller-Thurgau, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewürztraminer. German white wines in general fit in perfectly with the summer wine trend due to the cultivation conditions in Germany, the wines’ low alcohol content, their fruit-focused style and their refreshing acidity.

From discount stores to online shops: summer wines are on the upswing

For retailers, summer wines do, of course, provide a refreshing boost during the rather slow summer months when many people are on vacation. But the wines can’t be too expensive, which is why most are priced in the range of six to seven euros.

sommerweine in der flasche
© / User: Nietjuh

Summer wines are often given secondary placements and located in special displays that can be set up wherever customers might be inspired by that summer feeling — whether in the produce department or the wine aisle.

Even discount retailers like to adorn their stores with summer wines. At Aldi, the slogan is, “Summer, sun, sunshine: At ALDI SÜD, connoisseurs can find the best wines for hot days and mild evenings.” In stores, customers can then find a vinho verde from Portugal or a rosé from southern France in the Côteaux d’Aix en Provence region. Along with German white and rosé wines, sought-after wines include rosé wines from Provence as well as those from well-known wine regions in Spain, such as Rioja and La Mancha, and those from Italy.

Online retailers don’t, of course, want to be left out, and they have summer wines for sale, too. Online retailer Vicampo offers its customers for just over €40 “dry summer wine” and “fruity summer wine” packages, with each set containing a six-bottle selection of red, white and rosé wines from the nearby Mees winery.

The largest German online and mail-order retailer, Hamburg-based Hawesko, offered its customers a package of eight bottles of four different types of wine designated “summer pleasure” for the price of €54.90. Customers received a Tempranillo from Spain, a Lugana from Italy, a red Sogno del Garda from the DOC Bardolino region on Lake Garda, and a dry Hundertmorgen rosé. The set must have been a hit because the wines are now sold out at Hawesko.

Agreeable wines with moderate alcohol content

In light of the sustained trend in summer wines, enologists are also getting involved. Specialized firms that provide enological consulting and additional materials are offering selected new yeasts for cellars and winemakers. These aid the production of lighter, lower-alcohol and fruitier wines. One example of such a company is Erbslöh, a specialist for the processing and finishing of fruit-based beverages. The Geisenheim-based company sees this as an answer to the ongoing trend toward higher must weights that result from warmer summers. After all, these naturally promote higher alcohol contents — that is, higher sugar levels in the grapes. The Erbslöh concept “LA-C and LA-HOG” is intended to provide “more fruit, harmony and mouthfeel with lower alcohol content.” The specially selected yeast, together with additional yeast compounds, forms less alcohol during alcoholic fermentation in exchange for more high-grade alcohol glycerin, making the wines seem more full-bodied and round.

“The name LA-HOG stands for Low Alcohol–High Osmolarity Glycerol. The aroma profile meets today’s customer requirements and we can produce modern and light wines,” promises Erbslöh. 

The concept reflects the trend now sweeping through enological research: In times of climate change, how can we produce agreeable wines with moderate alcohol content that are both fruity and refreshing to drink? The wine industry is tracking this development, as will be seen in September 2021 at drinktec, the leading platform for beverage technology, where companies dealing in raw materials, treatment agents and additives as well as management and technology for biological processes will have their booths.

Dr. Hermann Pilz

Dr. Hermann Pilz has been in charge of the trade magazine WEINWIRTSCHAFT as chief editor for over 20 years. He loves writing about many different topics of the wine and spirits industry.