WASHINGTON — While the June 21 solstice marks the official start of summer, Memorial Day kicks off the unofficial beginning of the season.
These days, fashion has fewer restrictions (no need to save the whites for after Memorial Day), and the same goes for wine: You can sip on whites all year round. That said, the onset of summer gives me one more good excuse to foist some of my favorite white wines onto family and friends.
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.
So, if you’re firing up the grill or are heading off to the beach over the next few months and need a few fun wines to share with family, friends and neighbors, here are several delicious and affordable options:
Wine in a can? Well, if you’re planning on having a picnic this summer and don’t want to worry about carrying glass bottles or containers around with you, then a can of Stella Pinot Grigio might be just the ticket. It is the same wine that Stella of Italy produces for its bottled version. It originates in Sicily, where the temperate climate and clay soils produce some of Italy’s best wines. Fruit from both mature and younger vineyards are blended to produce heightened elegance and fresh fruit nuances. The result is an easy drinking wine that offers up flavors of white nectarine, ripe peach, Gala apple and Bosch pear, all wrapped around a core of juicy acidity. The finish is crisp and bracing. $13 for a four-pack of 250 mL cans.
One of the best values in summer sipping can be found in an offering from Portugal, where along its northern border, conditions are perfect for grapes that produce crisp, delicious white wines. The 2017 Quinta da Aveleda Fonte from Vinho Verde, Portugal is bursting with aromas of citrus, nectarine and white peaches. In the mouth, flavors of ripe peach and pear are highlighted by notes of lime that linger on the finish. Try it with grilled shrimp. $7
Torrontés is a white wine that is often overlooked, but it shouldn’t be — especially if you’re looking for a charming summer wine with which to chill out. The 2016 Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontés from Argentina is crafted by Susana Balbo, the first woman to receive a degree in oenology in Argentina. You can taste her passion in the wine, where she lets the true nature of the Torrontés fruit shine through. Stylish scents of white flowers and tropical fruits shine through on the bouquet, while citrusy flavors of grapefruit, nectarine and mango fall on to the wonderfully refreshing finish. $16
I have a hammock in the backyard that needs two things in it this weekend: Me and a chilled glass of 2017 Trinchero Mary’s Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley, California. Mary’s vineyard was the very first vineyard purchased by the Trinchero family in 1980 and pays tribute to founder Mario Trinchero’s wife. The 14 acres are sustainably farmed and produce an extremely well-balanced wine with an aromatic nose of guava and grapefruit. Flavors of gooseberry, passion fruit and tropical fruit are kept bright and focused on the palate, thanks to a pop of lemon/lime acidity on the lip-smacking finish. $35