WASHINGTON — Memorial Day weekend has come and gone, and I feel like Fred Flintstone sliding down the back of an Apatosaurus, shouting, “Yabba-dabba-do,” while diving headfirst into a glass of cold white wine.
And while red wine is not necessarily excluded from the reindeer games of summer fun, I think crossing the Memorial Day line on the calendar just seems to be a psychological green light to chill down bottles of crisp white wine.
(No one has to force me to drink white wine any other time of year, but the onset of summer just gives a good excuse to foist some of my favorites upon my friends and family — and a few lucky listeners, too.)
The common theme to keeping cool this summer is the balance between bright fruit and abundant acidity. Acidity provides a thirst-quenching quality that cleanses the palate and keeps the fruit — more accurately, the sugars provided by the fruit — in check.
Coincidentally, it is this very same quality that makes these wines cut the heat of spicy cuisines such as Indian, Thai and Chinese. Most of these wines are grown in regions where they can develop naturally high levels of acidity. That’s why many wines made from grapes grown in vineyards located at higher elevations or exposed to the cooling influences of ocean currents have plenty of tart, mouthwatering acidity to cleanse the palate and sooth the soul.
If you’re firing up the grill or heading off to the beach and need a few fun wines to share, here are a couple of really delicious and affordable white wines for the season:
You can’t talk about summer white wines without including one of the top white wine varietals, sauvignon blanc. The 2016 Ventisquero Reserva Sauvignon Blanc from the Casablanca Valley of Chile is a refreshing blast in a bottle. This wine is bursting with fresh citrus fruit. Fragrant scents of grapefruit and citrus dominate the nose and continue in the mouth. Notes of nectarine and guava are supported by the crisp acidity. $15
Another wonderful sauvignon blanc comes from a cool-climate region in New Zealand. The 2016 Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand is bursting with aromas of pineapple, passion fruit and guava. Flavors of ripe tropical fruit are kept crisp and bright, thanks to the flinty minerality that weaves in and out of the tangy, balanced finish. $13
During the summer months, I prefer to drink my chardonnay naked — the wine, that is. It is a winemaking term that indicates that the wine was produced without the use of oak in either the fermentation or aging process. The 2014 Chamisal Vineyards Stainless Unoaked Chardonnay from the Central Coast of California lets all of the bright fruit flavors of green apple, white nectarine and grapefruit shine through on the mid-weight body. The wonderfully bright acidity keeps the wine balanced and crisp. $14
The torrontes grape is the backbone in another refreshing summer white wine from South America. The 2016 Trivento White Orchid Reserve Torrontes from the Mendoza region of Argentina is a blend of 85 percent torrontes and 15 percent pinot grigio, and is a beautiful expression of the two grape varietals. It delivers a perfumy nose of apple blossoms, white peach and apricots. The substantial acidity provides a lovely platform for flavors of mango, honeydew melon and ripe nectarine up front, while notes of lemon grass and kumquats file in on the back. The slightly off-dry finish features abundant acidity and keeps the palate refreshed. $11
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