Big red wines are comforting against winter’s chill, but they just don’t work as well when summer’s heat starts taking hold. Reds’ higher serving temperatures and often higher alcohol content and tannins can clash with summer’s lighter foods. This is where a good white wine comes in.
Here are five summer whites that are all easy to enjoy and pair well with the warm-weather dishes I love — fresh produce, lighter grilled fishes and meats. They’re easy on the wallet, too! –Gregory Dal Piaz, Snooth.com
2007 Beyond Sauvignon Blanc, Buitenverwachting, South Africa
South African Sauvignon Blancs offer a good balance between the lean, mineral styles popular in France and their more intensely fruity and chili-laced cousins. Sure, the winery name is complicated, but this wine has a pure, refreshing fruit flavor.
Suggested food pairings: lighter fish dishes (try it with sushi!), pasta and veggies, avocados
Echeverria Chardonnay, Chile
In summer, unoaked Chardonnays give buttery flavor without the richness that might be too heavy for hotter days. South America is becoming a great source of budget-friendly whites, and the unwooded Chardonnay from Chile’s Echeverria vineyards is no exception. The bottle bursts with a fine blend of crisp, subtle fruit tones.
Suggested food pairings: richer fish dishes, pork, fruity olive oils (drizzled over grilled meats and veggies)
Dry Creek Chenin Blanc, California
This wine, one of my long-time favorite domestic whites, is on the lighter side and sports pineapple and passion fruit flavors. Its modest alcohol levels won’t leave you feeling dizzy in the summer heat either! Enjoy it on its own or as the start to a pitcher of white sangria.
Price tag: $10
Suggested food pairings: spicy grilled chicken or fish, curries
Clean Slate Riesling, Germany
Riesling grapes produce a surprisingly broad range of wines, from bone-dry Trockens to decadently sweet Eiswein. The flavors in this Clean Slate version add just a touch of sweetness and accentuate the contrast between its light mineral tones and rich lime and peach fruits.
Price tag: $9
Suggested food pairings: spicy dishes (try it with your favorite Thai takeout), salsa, salads that combine fruits and chiles
Col Vetoraz Prosecco, Italy
I couldn’t imagine going a whole summer without a bubbly Prosecco! These are soft, easy wines meant for celebrating life, and the Col Vetoraz, with its drier floral style, is one of my favorites. Around my house, Prosecco is a standard brunch wine as well as a versatile cocktail-hour choice. Its relatively low alcohol content – usually around 11 percent – won’t dull the senses either.
Price tag: $18
Suggested food pairings: summer salads, heirloom tomatoes, brunch
MORE IDEAS: Check out my favorite summer drink mixes featuring Prosecco.
Tannin – Bitter or astringent flavor from the grape skins, seeds and stems
Unwooded/Unoaked – Wine that is not fermented in a wooden (usually oak) barrel, which gives it a nutty flavor
Mineral – Earthy or smoky scents and flavors
Acidity – Tart, sometimes sour, flavor that varies in strength depending on the type of grape used
Gregory Dal Piaz, community manager at Snooth.com, has worked in the food and wine world for more than two decades. Check out the Snooth.com forums to read his reviews, wine musings and join the discussion.