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Monday, June 18, 2012

Summer Whites

Last week I covered lots of wines for pairing to summer dishes, mostly reds for grilling, dry rose, and sparkling wines.  Now I want to focus on crisp whites - they’re ideal for sipping on warm days and pairing with fresh seafood and shellfish, and with salads and soft cheeses.
When I think of crisp, clean, bright acidity whites, the first thing that comes to my mind is Sauvignon Blanc.  My favorites tend to come from the Loire Valley of France, but there were some very good ones produced elsewhere, particularly New Zealand.  Sauvignon Blanc produced in Sancerre is quite popular right now, but don’t forget about its counterpart from Pouilly-Fume.  These wines tend to be very bright and crisp and refreshing, with citrus fruit characteristics and cool minerality.

Sauvignon Blanc - Sancerre, Loire Valley, France

Dry style Rieslings (as well as some off-dry Rieslings) are quite refreshing.  So many people think of Riesling and “sweet” comes to mind - to be fair, some have characteristics of sweet fruit and floral notes, but just because something is perceived to be sweet doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of bright acidity to follow the fruit characteristics and clean the palate.  Riesling is known for its underlying acidity and that makes it perfect for a refreshing summer wine.  For the best Rieslings, look to Germany, Alsace (France), and the Finger Lakes.

Riesling - Mosel, Germany

Albarino has become more popular and is one of my favorite wines to pair to shellfish.  The wine is clean and has fun fruit characteristics, particularly orchard fruits including peach and fresh apricot.  While most people think of reds when they think of Spanish wine, this crisp, aromatic white from Galicia is a perfect summer wine.

Albarino - Rias Baixas, Galicia, Spain

Another very crisp, acidic white that has been enjoying popularity recently is Gruner Veltliner from Austria.  It shows white and green notes with some pepper and cool minerality, making it ideal for summer sipping and pairing with fish as well as vegetables - it’s very versatile, refreshing, and worth trying.

Gruner Veltliner - Niederosterreich, Austria

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