In the warmer months, there is a natural shift toward whites and rosés with their cleaner, more citrus notes. Let’s circle the globe for some good summer sippers.
CHILE: Sauvignon blanc here has nice citrus and mineral without the racy grapefruit. Chardonnays tend to be clean with nice fruits and lighter on the oak. Try a tannat rosé from Uruguay (tannat is a grape indigenous to Uruguay).
ARGENTINA: Torrontes is floral and refreshing, but some can have an overwhelming perfume scent. Argentine chardonnay tends to have big, forward fruits yet finish slightly cleaner. Need more from your rosé? There are plenty of bigger-styled rosés from this region made from the main red grape, malbec.
CALIFORNIA: Sauvignon blanc can be citrus to earthy tones; pinot blancs tend to be big, fruit-forward wines (often referred to as ‘baby chard.’) Pinot grigio from California generally lacks acidity, so stay with its Italian version.
OREGON/WASHINGTON: Farther north and slightly cooler, the Pacific Northwest is known better for whites with higher acidity levels. Pinot gris (grigio is the same grape) from Oregon tends to be bright and racy. Chardonnay from here is cleaner, less woodsy than the California versions. Rieslings have nice acidity and there are many dry and off-dry styles compared to the sweeter German style. If you like dry wine and have not tried dry Riesling from here, you are missing out.
SPAIN: Albarino is a stand-out here with clean notes of apricot and peach and nice acidity, making it a great food wine. Verdejo can resemble a sauvignon blanc and ranges from a little fruity to earthy tones with acidity. Now, that’s a great poolside wine!
FRANCE: Sauvignon blanc grapes grown all over from Loire/Sancerre are racy and vibrant and usually are blended with semillon to soften those racy notes. Chardonnay tends to be cleaner and more elegant and range from simple to complex. Alsace is home to pinot gris and pinot blanc, which both tend to be fuller in body and fruit than Oregon.
Gewurztraminer tends to be on the sweeter side but offers spicy notes and makes some great food pairing, but it’s an acquired taste for most. Looking for a blend? Rhone offers great white blends with grenache blanc, marsanne and rousanne, to name a few. They are nice, approachable wines and foodfriendly. Rosé from Provence is the classic rosé style—it screams patio-sipper and perhaps something to nibble on as it pairs with many foods.
ITALY: Although pinot grigio has lost its luster in the wine world, mainly because of overproduction, there still is plenty of good pinot grigio, particularly in the northeastern parts of Italy, including the Alto Adige region. From Piedmont, arneis—with its touch of floral tones—is a pretty and delightful wine. If you are looking for something slightly fuller-bodied, Fiano is earthy and makes a nice alternative.
AUSTRALIA: Chardonnay is the main grape, followed by semillon, sauvignon blanc and riesling. Some great white blends and the rieslings are drier in style.
NEW ZEALAND: the bright and racy sauvignon blanc, of course; chardonnay is the runner-up.
TASTING TIP: Chill your wines to correct temperature: 45 to 50 degrees for light-bodied wines like sauvignon blanc. For more robust reds, 55 to 65 degrees is ideal.
WINE RECOMMENDATION: My favorite summer white right now is a verdejo from Rueda, Spain. My favorite rosé is Azur Rosé from California—clean and crisp.
Stanley Browne is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, a Certified Specialist of Wine by the Society of Wine Educators, and the owner of Robust Wine Bar in Webster Groves. He is a 30-year veteran of the restaurant, hospitality and wine industry.