Photo Credit: Alice Swift

After more than four months of quarantining and social distancing, the world is finally beginning to open back up. Summertime may be almost over, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still have some summertime fun! During the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been two hobbies that I have observed on social media that have completely skyrocketed in popularity—Baking and Gardening! 

During this period of social distancing, I find myself taking the time to connect with friends I haven’t spoken to in a while, and have been seeing a lot more friend activity on social media. Since people were no longer eating out, and the kids are all taking classes from home, activities to keep the family busy have resulted in a LOT more homegrown and homemade foods.

Why not find some tasty wine picks to pair with these wonderful things folks are making at home? Below are some of my summertime picks to pair with what’s cookin’ and bakin’ at home! 

Fresh Out of the Oven

Fresh Bread: Sourdough

For Dessert: Chocolate chip cookies and “Corona-Cakes”

During the stay-at-home period, one of the booming trends that I have seen is with people making their own sourdough bread from scratch, including the starter. Why not, since everyone has had a little extra time on their hands? Additionally, other baked goods like cookies and cakes have also taken off, and baking ingredients have been flying off the shelves in grocery stores. One of my closest friends from childhood (whom I’ll call “Michael” as a pseudonym), his wife Mary and their kids tackle different baking projects, trying their hand at everything from cake decorating to sourdough bread and pretzels made from homemade starter! The family even has a name for the cake baking activity—“Corona Cakes”! 

From the Garden

Aromatic Herbs: Basil, Rosemary, Oregano, Parsley

Garden Veggies: Zucchini or other squash, Tomatoes, Lettuce, Beets

In my own trips to the local home improvement store, it seems everyone has decided to start their home garden projects, with many seeds and plants getting sold out. Herbs like basil and rosemary have been popular items to grow in the home, quick growing and easy to maintain. Additionally, families are also trying their hand at homegrown gardens, with items like zucchini or other squashes and tomatoes (myself included!). Even those who are living in condos or apartments are still able to have a garden, by utilizing their local community gardens. 

Putting It All Together

With such wonderful fresh herbs and veggies grown in your home garden, why not put together a nice tossed salad, and for dinner, a fresh Pasta Primavera? This lightly-flavored pasta dish is simple to make and deliciously healthy, and only a couple extra items from the store would be needed to complete your ingredients (e.g., garlic, butter/olive oil, lemon juice, other vegetables you would like to add like bell peppers or carrots, etc.). Pair that with a fresh sourdough bread loaf and you’re all set! Dessert, of course, will be your “Corona Cakes” and whatever else is coming out of your oven. 

Complete the Meal with Wine

With the heat of the summer upon us, it’s all about finding crisp and refreshing wines to pair with equally lightly flavored foods. 

Dinner: Gewurztraminer or an off-dry Riesling with their light and but aromatic flavors are a perfect match, with the crisp acidity and hints of floral springtime. Trimbach Gewurztraminer is an easy find in your local beverage shops. For a hint of sweetness, try Hogue Riesling or Charles Smith Kung Fu Riesling. Both of these off-dry Rieslings have the white floral aromas, along with the citrusy notes and minerality. 

Dessert: To balance out the overpowering sweetness in your baked desserts, how about a dessert wine that has the sugar but is also a little higher in alcohol? Depending on the dessert you make, you could try a Ruby Port or a Tawny Port. Warre’s, Dow’s and Graham’s are a few of the more common brands to look for. 

Or, if you’re a chocolate lover and really want to layer chocolate on chocolate, there’s always “Chocolate wine,” which is made by adding chocolate flavors to a red wine base. At your local Total Wine & More, they carry a Red Decadence Chocolate Wine, which they recommend serving chilled, either to have alone or paired with dessert. 

Continue taking advantage of the precious family and home time we are all getting by maintaining social distancing. I’m sure there are many more home projects to catch up on, and even new hobbies and activities to pick up on! Stay healthy, stay safe! 

Until next month, Cheers~!