Hot Nights, Cold Dinners (and Even Colder Wines)


During the dog days of summer, give your oven a vacation. These vibrant, simple — and cold! — suppers are blissful on evenings when the heat of the day just won’t lift. We’ve gone ahead and paired them with fridge-ready Pennsylvania wines, a delicious way to chill out.

Salmorejo paired with Albariño

This punchy cold soup is gazpacho’s cousin from southern Spain. Made by blending tomatoes (the better the tomatoes, the better the finished soup will be), stale bread, garlic, high-quality olive oil, and a splash of sherry vinegar, salmorejo is a stunning summer treat. Have fun with the garnishes — chopped egg and cubed Serrano ham are traditional — and serve the soup with more bread for dunking. While you’re at it, uncork a bottle of Albariño. Native to Spain, this crisp white will cut the heat of the raw garlic while also underlining the acidity of the summer tomatoes.

Herbed rice and shrimp salad paired with Vidal Blanc

The best thing about this dish is its versatility. Outside of the shrimp (poached or roasted on a sheet tray first) and the rice, the rest is open to interpretation. Our favorite iteration features loads of diced dill, parsley, and mint, plus lemon juice and zest, and a couple of glugs of olive oil. Whatever chopped veggies you have lying around are welcome to join the party (halved cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, leftover grilled peppers, ribbons of raw zucchini) as are salty touches such as olives, capers, or feta. The one thing the dish doesn’t have much of is sweetness, so choose a wine with some fruity verve. Vidal Blanc is an excellent choice as it boasts aromas of grapefruit, pineapple, and pear.

Ploughman’s “lunch” paired with chilled Chambourcin

A British classic, this workingman’s midday repast is a dream for lazy, languid August nights. Comprised of cold items arrayed on a wooden board — bread, cheese, butter, pickles, ham, eggs, and apple are traditional — the dish is more of an assembly task than a cooking one. Our tip: Splurge on some really good aged cheddar and be sure your platter boasts a healthy spoonful of chutney or jam. Play off those tangy, fruity notes with a light red such as Chambourcin. This hybrid grape produces wines that are sprightly and drinkable, and it’s wonderfully refreshing when served chilled (opt for an unoaked version).

Sesame noodles paired with Riesling

Most of the elements for this dish (veggies, dressing) can be prepped in advance before being tossed together at dinner time. While a basic version of sesame noodles (peanut butter, sesame oil, soy sauce) is delicious, there are a couple of authentic ingredients that really take things to another level. These include Chinese black vinegar, tehina (the sesame paste subs in for the PB), and Sichuan chili oil. Keep tasting the dressing until it tastes balanced, adding hits of soy, sugar, and vinegar. Serve an off-dry wine with high levels of acidity to counteract the spice and savoriness. Riesling, with its notes of citrus, green apple, and honey, certainly fits the bill.

BLT paired with Dry Rosé

Name something better than a BLT. We dare you. Next time you’re lucky enough to have bacon for breakfast, make extra. Later, tuck that salty, fatty goodness between a couple of slices of bread with good tomato, lettuce, and a healthy smear of mayonnaise. If you want to club-ify it with slices of turkey or BLAT-ify it with sliced avocado, we grant permission. Serve this late-summer dinner of champions with a glass of dry Pennsylvania rosé — choose a bottle with a mellow tannic bite and red-fruit flavors. Refreshing!

Spicy crab and avocado with Chardonnay

This colorful dish provides a taste of the restaurant experience at home. Toss lump crab meat in a creamy Japanese-inspired dressing of mayonnaise, rice wine vinegar, and sriracha. Then peel and de-pit a halved avocado, creating two edible bowls. Top the pretty green vessels with the crab salad and sprinkle on some sesame seeds or a shake of furikake, a Japanese rice seasoning typically made with nori seaweed, sesame seeds, sugar, salt, and dried fish. Choose a wine that features a balance of acidity — to cut the fattiness — and richness to round out the sweet, delicate flavors of the crab. Chardonnay is a marvelous choice, just be sure to avoid a bottle with a lot of oak as those notes will drown out the dish.