The flowers shouldn’t be on the label



They should be inside the bottle. We enjoyed some delicious and fragrantly floriferous whites during the weekend of Garden Walk and it made me think of other wines I love during summer. There is plenty of warm weather left for most of us, and I¹m suspecting the serious garden work has subsided a bit (unless you’re one of the ones pulling out all your grass), so there’s more time to sit and enjoy. OK, maybe a weed gets yanked here and there, but this is mainly about sitting and drinking, with others—or alone (no harm in that).

Can you smell flowers in a glass of white wine? You sure can, and I¹m not talking about nutty Robert Parkeresque “nose of sweaty saddles and pencil shavings” stuff. But if you¹re drinking a wine from southern Italy and you swear you smell jasmine, that makes sense, because jasmine grows wild all over such areas as the Amalfi coast. Such was the case with a Falanghina I just drank the last bottle of (damn!). It is perfect for garden consumption: refreshing yet with that hint of flowers and a little bit of body so you don¹t gulp it down. But if you do find this, make sure it is no more than a year or two old.

The same goes with one of my all-time favorite summer drinks, Muscadet. It must be fresh. This white from the Loire is super-crisp, with a citrusy nose and taste. To me this is so much better than pinot grigio (which has similar properties). A better Italian choice, if you want that fresh mineral-y quality is Greco di Tufa, also from southern Italy. (I understand bottom-line concerns, but I will never, ever buy any of these wines this summer unless they are 2005-6. No one should. Take them off the shelves, please.)

If the wines are fresh, I don¹t think you need concern yourself too much with the maker. You won’t be able to, as in most liquor stores you’d be lucky to find one example. Having said that, Feudi de San Gregorio is a great source for both Greco di Tufa and Falanghina. Here’s some trivia: Falanghina is one of the wines made by the ancient Romans; it’s what the inhabitants of Pompeii might have been swigging just before they got clobbered.

The one red I’ll readily go for on a summer’s day is Beaujolais—and there should be plenty of violet aromas with a good one. The cru Beaujolais (Fleurie, Brouilly, Morgon) are great, very quickly and lightly chilled—say, 2 minutes in the freezer? This isn’t the sodapop nouveau stuff; this is delicate, nuanced red wine, but not in any way too heavy for summer.

I meant to get to dry rosés—oh well, next time!

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regular radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world, and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. I’m not really a fruity kinda wine lover but I do enjoy a crisp ripe Sauvignon Blanc or a buttery Chardonnay on a warm summer day, especially with a triangle of fresh made goat cheese and crusty rustic bread. ummmmm
    I go more for the more deep rich complex blackberry and smokey chocolate flavors of a well structured Cabernet Sauvignon , Merlot or Shiraz.

    The soil is mostly volcanic here in Napa and Sonoma countries and the air is dry and warm in the summer months.
    The heady smell of wild sage infused with the grapes ripening on the vine fill the air as you drive up valley.

    I am heading off to Napa tomorrow for some gardening work and if I have the time and I’m not too grimy I hope to stop in at the Copia Center for Wine for a soothing sip and a walk through their culinary gardens.

  2. Michelle, I am afraid I am one of those ABC gals. Butter? Oak? Not a fan. Give me the more austere French style any day.

    Though I’d love to see Copia.

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