Our weather here in New England has been heating up. Not as much as other parts of the world but for us – 80 degrees is hot. We do not have a lot of air conditioning, many of our cars do not have it. We rely on fans and chilled beverages.
Most of us are familiar with the white wines you will usually find on the shelves of your favorite wine shop; Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, to name a few. These are all good and do well in the summer heat but there are other whites that can be crispier, cleaner and brighter. I’m talking about the Albariño, Viognier, Vermentino and Vinho Verde wines to name a few.
My all-time go-to favorite for summer is the Albariño. The Albariño wines generally comes from Spain but some can be found in Portugal, Australia and the United States. Depending on the type of soil the vines are growing in, the taste of this wine runs from a more mineral-driven and structured wine to a softer, rounder wine. The Albariño grown in an acidic, granite soil will produce a wine similar to a dry Riesling for its minerality and a Viognier for its fleshiness and peach/apricot character. The vines grown in a sandy soil will produce a taste closer to a Pinot Grigio with a floral feel and flavor. Regardless of where your Albariño is grown, the taste is perfect for a hot summer day. A Spanish Albariño will be the easiest to find in your wine shop. It should cost anywhere from $11.99 to $21.00. Do not keep this wine in your storage longer than 12 months, and as with all chilled wines, let it warm up slightly to really appreciate the subtle nuances of the grape. I would pair this wine with any food you would serve on a warm summer day; grilled fish, poultry, veggies, salads or just sip it and enjoy it with a cheese plate.
Vinho Verde is another favorite of mine. It is perfect for those hot summer afternoons when all you can do is sit on the porch or deck and drink crispy chilled white wine. Vinho Verde is a Portuguese wine that has a light fresh green flavor and will typically have a slight effervesce to it. Vinho Verde is not a grape varietal but a blend of grapes coming from the Vinho Verde region in Portugal. The price of this wine is usually between $8.00 and $12.00, It is easy to drink by itself or pairs easily with grilled fish or a tasty fruit salad. Because of the light fresh nature of this wine, I would not overwhelm it with anything heavy or overly spicy but it would be perfect with a seafood salad.
Viognier (prounced vyon-yay or vin-yay) can be found world-wide. From France to New Zealand, North America to South America. This is a lush, soft full bodied wine with notes of peaches and pears. I prefer my Viognier to come from a cooler climate to lessen the amount of sugar in it. The Central Coast of California is a good place to start. This is the one summer white that I would pair with a spicier food such as Thai or zesty barbeque. The price of this wine should run between $10.00 and $20.00 depending on the location of the winery of origin.
The last of the “other whites” is Vermentino, which will take us to Italy. This is the lightest of the whites, with a pale straw color and the flavors of green apples and limes. The taste is more to the sweeter side while still remaining a dry wine. Lovely with your Oysters and other shellfish, or your grilled veggies but will still be just as good without a food pairing. The pricing on a Vermentino will run between $15.00 and $20.00 and worth it.
The Albariño, Viognier, Vermentino and Vinho Verde wines are what I drink from July to September. While they are similar to the Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay wines, they offer a bit of deviation from these to give you a variety of choices. What’s not to like about having a choice of wines?