The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Drinks on The Deck: Junk Season in Full Bloom

Posted on | July 6, 2012 | Written by Josh Rubenstein | No Comments

With the recent celebration of Hong Kong’s Dragon Boat Festival, Tuen Ng, it seems you’re more likely to find Hong Kong people on the water than on land during these super-hot days. To avoid getting island fever, we take to the waters on junk boats, and we do so properly armed with wines suitable for the broiling hot weather and bustling seafood restaurants on the outlying islands. Above all, Hong Kong’s love of decadence must be properly catered to.

Each week, more and more calls come in from clients for ‘junk wines,’ so it’s important that we’re prepared to recommend accordingly. Fortunately, I have a bit of experience in the matter and have also seen many a well-intentioned host go wrong in the July heat with massive, big name wines that make drinking milk seem like a fantastic choice.

Friulano is an Italian grape variety that seems to have been created just for junk season. Offering the citrus elements of Sauvignon Blanc, Friulano makes a wine that can provide great elegance and racy minerality that are both quenching and food friendly. It‘s my top choice when heading to Po Toi or Lamma for fresh calamari, or just to ‘replace drinking on a boat’ with ‘drinking well on a boat.’

Another favorite white for the high seas is Pigato, and I’ve long been a fan of those produced by Riccardo Bruna. Pigato is indigenous to the region of Liguria, and Bruna’s Le Russeghine is like a Margarita in a wine glass, with sea-salty flavors that make you feel like you’re on a boat even when you’re not.

For reds, I’ve been having great luck with Refosco as a wine that can be slightly chilled and also pairs great with grilled meats. Also from the region of Friuli, it’s a wine that can be enjoyed on a very casual everyday level, such as Marco Fantinel’s Refosco Borgo Tesis, a perfect and inexpensive aperitivo selection, to Miani’s cult-classic Refosco, which rabid collectors are constantly in hot pursuit of.

Whatever you select, I hope you’ll find something delicious that crosses the fine line of ‘drinking on a boat’ over to ‘drinking very well on a boat.’ Your shipmates will thank you.


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