Thursday, July 6, 2017

Summer Whites

By Liza B. Zimmerman

Now that the days are longer and the sun is out we may all enjoy more white wine on the patio and with dinner. Brighter flavors and higher acidity levels often work beautifully with lighter summer foods and can even tame some of those tough vegetables such as asparagus and artichokes.

Some of my favorite summer whites include Muscadets from the Loire Valley, white Bordeaux and Sauvignon Blancs from almost anywhere: especially South Africa. These mineral-driven wines can stand up to all kinds of salads, raw and cooked fish dishes and delicious cheeses. Rhône whites are also among my favorites with varietals like Marsanne and Viognier way up there on the summer delicious scale.

Ideas from an Expert
Nicole Rolet is a New Yorker who owns the Chêne Bleu vineyard in the Southern Rhône Valley. Her tastes run to “Roussannes that smell like Provençal summer fruit baskets: apricots, peaches and melons and I also the delicately perfumed Viogniers.” She added that U.S. domestic producers are also hitting a home run with “gorgeous White Grenache and other Rhone-styles whites of cool microclimates such as Santa Barbara.”

“If I’m relaxing by the pool [which winemakers rarely get to do!], there are lots of crisp whites to choose from—a light bright Loire Valley wine like Sancerre, a springy Sauvignon Blanc or a mouth-wateringly dry Riesling from Alsace, Germany or the Finger Lakes or a new, improved Pinot Grigio, recovering from the excesses of quantity over quality of the last decade,” she added.

These wines, she noted, are “crying out to be paired with food… summer salads, seafood or even a nice cheese platter, since over here [in France] we often prefer rich whites with cheese to reds. With food our wines really earn their keep.”

Temperature is Key
With summer whites, as much as winter reds, serving them at the right temperature is going to make all the difference. If you keep the whites a little warmer than usual you may see that they are generally more expressive in the glass. A trick they use in Texas, mostly for the reds in the hot months, is to serve them in chilled decanters which keep the wines fresher than they would be strait out of the bottle.

Rolet confirms the same rule about giving summer whites a little warm up in the glass. “As a rule of thumb, I always enjoy drinking good quality whites a bit warmer than recommended, so their perfume really lifts from the glass and when you sip it you get to fully experience the full palette of flavors. “

During the peak heat of summertime you will want to do your wines as much justice as you do with your foods. Serve your whites at their peak of fresh, but not super-chilled, accessibility. Trust me that you won’t regret it this season.

Cheers from all of us at DrinkUpNY!

Liza B. Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

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