Chillin’ out with the glorious white wines of summer

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It’s hot. It’s sticky. No, I ain’t talking about the gay film festival. I’m talking about summer in the south, whose hotness and stickiness need no further elaboration, indeed.

Even die hard red wine drinkers will veer off their well worn path and cool off with a crispy white. Seems like the last thing you want on a sweltering day is anything red, which feels “heavy” to a body seeking a more refreshing beverage. So, let’s chill out with a look at summer’s glorious white wines. But first, I have a lament for Chardonnay, since I will not be writing about her today:

Oh Chardonnay, long time mistress and muse. Though ye are America’s number one selling white wine and queen of all the realm, ye now have some serious competition to contend. And, although we shant lose our adoration and devotion for ye, the time has come for us to try an open relationship and experiment with new partners.

Pinot Grigio – As Italy’s most popular white wine, this varietal has become a favorite of the cocktail and dinner crowd, perhaps proving that we all wish we had a little Italian in us. Hints of fruit that range from citrus to tropical with an occasional smoky tinge will transport you to the Isle of Capri to live la dolce vita. Pinot Grigio goes wonderfully with seafood, creamy or olive oil based pastas and light appetizers.

Kev’s picks: Estancia, Rancho Zabaco Reserve, Robert Pepi, Albola.

Riesling: Why oh why is it than when I see the word “Riesling” I always think of lederhosen? That is probably due to the fact that Riesling originated in the Rhein and Mosel river valleys of Germany. They can be quite sweet so might be worth a try for sweet-toothed White Zin drinkers who will appreciate the pear, apple and peach undertones. Riesling dances well with white meats, fish and desserts. In fact, many of these precocious wines are excellent choices when dining on popular Asian fusion fare.

Kev’s picks: Hogue, Alsace Reserve, Bonny Doon Pacific Rim.

Sauvignon Blanc: A real white wine drinker’s wine, traditionally European with a vast fruity to earthy range. You also know this elegant lady as Pouilly-Fume, Sancerre and Fume Blanc. Always delightful, refreshing and a real winner with all foods.

Kev’s picks: Groth, Murphy-Goode, Chateau Souverain, Rancho Zabaco, Concannon, Geyser Peak, St. Supery, Frog’s Leap.

Chenin Blanc: You’re probably too young to remember that Chenin Blanc was all the rage in the ’70s. I recall my mother drinking this wine to no doubt calm her from the effects of the orange, silver metallic and lime green wallpaper of our kitchen. It hails from France’s Loire Valley and has done well in sunny California. It can be fruity or dry depending on whether or not someone stuck their finger in the barrels to stir. It goes great with lighter dishes on the veranda.

Kev’s picks: Barron Herzog. (If you’re wallpaper is hideous, you’ll love any brand)

Viognier: I went ballistic over Viognier a few months back when I tried it at a wine tasting and exclaimed to readers, “Move over Chardonnay!” Honeyed florals married with luscious fruits and a long creamy finish you don’t find in whites. If you love Chards, give this one a try; it will entice you to keep sipping.

Kev’s picks: Fairview, Sliver Ridge. R.H. Phillips.

Chardonnay: I know, I know; a thousand lashes. I said I wasn’t going to write about this hog-the-spotlight, Paris Hilton of a wine. I just want to give you some of my picks, ’cause dang, Chardonnay’s are good: Husch, Chateau St. Jean, Grgich Hills, Hess, Sonoma Cutrer, Sterling, Chateau St. Michelle, and if you can ever afford it, ZD.