lesWhen the heat is on, turn to wines that are easy on the palate. Young, refreshing whites go perfectly with casual outdoor dining. Recent vintages will be more vibrant, and their freshness is well suited to the warm weather. I like crisp, light, fruity white wines to pair with salads, seafood, and chicken. The natural acidity is the key for these varietals.
Summer being the season to travel, let’s explore wines from some specific regions, starting with Riesling, which was cultivated in Germany by the Romans in the first century. The Rieslings of Germany are distinguished by their floral, mineral and fruity aromas. I enjoy the apricot and honeysuckle flavors they deliver. For an intriguing pairing, consider spicy food and even raw fish.
On to Italy and France. Whether you choose the Italian “pinot grigio,” or the French “pinot gris,” this summer white is a perfect match for your favorite fish or shrimp creation on a hot afternoon. Originally grown in Alsace, this varietal has made a home around the world, and does particularly well in Oregon. As a travel advisory, go Italian for a lighter, crisper style. For rounder, richer wines try something from Oregon or Alsace.
Spain excels with the Albarino grape from the coastal region of Rias Baixas. It is similar in style to pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc, but with its own distinction. I find it has more minerality, lemon and grapefruit tones.
As I’ve already hinted, the Old World no longer has a hold on great summer whites. New Zealand and California are making very food-friendly sauvignon blanc. This pairing is just right with a lobster-and-shrimp summer roll or some fresh mahi with a lemon citrus glaze.
Some Sizzling Selections:
Don Olegario Albariño Rias Baixas, Spain:
A quintessential expression of this elegant, aromatic variety, showing bright citrus, grapefruit and white fruit flavors and aromas with seductive floral notes
underscored by a fresh, vibrant acidity.
Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Gris, Oregon:
Bold and crisp with generous flavors of pear, mineral, tangerine and spice.
Wonderful with cheese, shellfish, chicken, salads and white fish.
Matanzas Creek Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County:
A bright citrus bouquet of Meyer lemon, pink grapefruit and just a hint of melon.
And to pair it? Can you say goat cheese?
Louis Jadot Beaujolais Rosé, France (Gamay Grape):
Light, dry, fresh and perfectly balanced with a lively acidity, it has a bright
black-currant and raspberry character, and a long, crisp finish.
Domaine Ligneres Las Vals Blanc Montagne D’Alaric, France:
100 percent Roussane grape from Cobierres. An enticing nose of ripe,
almost peppery peach with hints of pineapple. Heart-warming flavors of tropical
fruit and a bright minerality with an apricot essence refresh the palate
and draw you back to experience it again!
Cambria Chardonnay Katherine’s Vineyard, Santa Maria:
Bright citrus, apple and vanilla aromas with rich flavors
of white peach and grapefruit.
Charles Fredy is a sommelier and certified wine specialist with the Society of Wine Educators.
A 30-year veteran of the wine and spirits industry, he is vice president of Better Brands, Maui.