Hot weather screams for cold drinks, and in the summertime, nothing wets the whistle faster than chilled white wine. There are plenty of “patio pounders” on the market, meaning an inexpensive bottle of easily quaffable wine that takes little to no effort for the brain to compute, while delivering a much-needed respite from the heat. There are also a plethora of wines on the market that are a tad more serious, affordable, and easy to come by if you know what you’re looking for. Whether shopping for a beach vacation, an informal picnic, dinner party, or poolside, a white wine is just the thing.
For that first glass after relaxing on the beach, still waxy from sunscreen and gritty with sand, open (corkscrew not required!) a bottle of Meinklang Burgenland White. It is a perfectly crisp, floral, organic, and biodynamic blend of Grüner Veltliner and Muskat from Austria and retails for $12.99 at Wine Made Simple. This wine is ideal for sipping anytime, but will also accompany seafood and antipasti quite well. With dinner at the beach house (and assuming the day’s fresh catch is being grilled), I’d serve the Musar Jeune from Bekka Valley in Lebanon, which is an uncanny blend of viognier, vermentino, and chardonnay. It is a young, vibrant white that is un-oaked and leeches freshness. Wines from Lebanon are not commonplace, but this winery estate is one of the largest and its wines can be found at Wine Made Simple and at Market Street Wineshops for less than $20.
When selecting the perfect bottle to bring to a dinner party, test the waters with a unique wine from Hungary, typically know for its dessert wines. The Evolucio Furmint from Tokaj is an off dry, un-oaked white made from the furmint grape and possesses notes of citrus, apricot, and good minerality. It is a fuller bodied wine that would accompany fish, chicken, and spicy foods. Foods of All Nations sells it for a mere $10.99.
Another choice would be the Sauvignon Blanc from Barboursville Vineyards ($17 at Wine Made Simple). Perhaps your host is unfamiliar with the delights of Virginia wine, so introduce her to a whole new world of local vino. This one is piercingly crisp, with notes of grapefruit and green apple, and everyone recognizes the varietal, which is always a safe bet.
For the impromptu picnic, pack a bottle of the ultimate summer wine, Txakoli (pronounced “chacoli”) from Spain’s Basque region. This young, fruity, high acidity white wine is an ideal treat for a sweaty outdoor afternoon. Made from two grapes, hondarrabi zuri and hondarrabi beltza, it is lower in alcohol and develops a slight spritz during the fermentation process, adding to its refreshing qualities. Foods of All Nations has three to choose from, one of which is a rosé.
Summer just isn’t complete without barbeque—and there are wines to go with that, too. The ‘Tami’ Frappato from Occhipinti in Sicily is hard to beat on its own, but tastes as if it were made to keep barbeque company. The winemaker is a mere 30 years old, yet her wines are more complex and intriguing than those made by folks with decades more experience. Frappato is a grape that is grown predominantly in Sicily, and despite the hot climate of Southern Italy, it is surprisingly light and floral, reticent of roses and dried herbs.
Another fascinating Italian red wine is the De Angelis Lacrima Christi del Vesuvio from the region of Campania, with Aglianico and Piedirosso grapes grown on the volcanic soils of the famous volcano, Vesuvio. It is also fruity and floral, with characteristics of raspberry and plum preserves, but has a spicy, peppered finish unlike any other wine I’ve tasted ($21.99 at Foods of All Nations).
For the iconoclastic “patio pounder” I’d choose something light, bubbly, and lower in alcohol, such as the Lodali Moscato D’Asti, which is slightly sweet and smelling of honeysuckle. It’s too easy to gulp this wine, but that’s the point right?
A proprietary white wine blend of pinot blanc, pinot gris, riesling, and gewürtztraminer from Brooks Winery in Oregon’s Willamette Valley is another strong selection. It’s crisp and revitalizing but also elegant and multifaceted, making it certain to cool you off, and no doubt finish the bottle (found at Wine Made Simple and Market Street Wineshops).
Now, get out there and start sipping—it’s not going to get any cooler!
Tracey Love is the event coordinator at Blenheim Vineyards, the sales and marketing associate for the Best of What’s Around farm, and proprietress of Hill & Holler.