Wine that doesn’t suck: Not all white wines are created equal

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Welcome back to my summer series: Wine that doesn’t suck!

Summer is “officially” here!

We officially kicked off “Summer 2013″ on Thursday June 20th at 10:04 p.m. with the summer solstice.

Today I have a question for you….

What really signifies “summer” for you?

During my childhood, summer officially started when my family headed out to our cabin, on the Bay side of Cape Cod. Days of running wild, digging for clams, never wearing shoes, mini-golf and showering on the porch….

In adulthood, after moving to Tucson, summer meant getting used to the “dry heat”, praying for monsoon season to start, taking frequent picnics to the mountains or heading out for long weekends in San Diego….and MOST DEFINITELY switching my wine drinking over to enjoying chilly, refreshing summer whites. They chillier, the yummier, the better.

So, in celebration of summer, here is my latest installment of the “wine that doesn’t suck” series…..

Not All White Wines Are Created Equal

Guess what? Chardonnay is NOT invited to this party….

I’m SO excited to share this post with you, because I love, love, LOVE sharing new wines with people! It’s absolutely one of my favorite things to do.

Where do you start/how do you choose?

There are SO MANY wine varietals and PRODUCERS that it can be completely intimidating to venture from your tried and true wines. I so understand that and have done it myself.

But, OH, when you find that new wine that you just fall in love with? When you have that ah-ha moment that there are OTHER white wines [besides Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc]? Well, it will change your whole summer (I hope!).

My purpose

Today is to give you some fun (and wallet friendly) white wine alternatives to start trying this summer.

And, I REALLY hope that you will ADD to the conversation! Share some white wines (chards & sauv blancs totally welcome!) in the comments for me and the other readers to try or

Tweet out: @radiantrose1 #winethatdoesn’tsuck, and add what YOU are sipping on to the list! I would love it…

So, off we go.

Off-Dry Riesling

Now, PLEASE, don’t start with “Huh? I don’t LIKE sweet wines! Why is she recommending Rieslings? Ugh!”

Keep reading (because all Rieslings are not created equal).

I used to shun Rieslings myself, none too long ago. After being exposed to candy-sweet, sugary Rieslings, my answer to a Riesling offer was: HELL and NO.

But, the blinders came off when I was offered a delightful off-dry Riesling from a very lovely Master Sommelier (who was I to say no to him? Right?) who has a HUGE love for all things Riesling. I’m pretty sure his restaurant in New York has one of the largest lists of Riesling in the country. Anyway, this Riesling was unlike any one that I had ever tasted. It was AMAZE-BALLS. It was very aromatic on the nose but not “sweet-smelling”, more flowery and perfume-y but in a subtle way. On the palate, it was simply delicious. There was a slight sweetness on the finish but the high acidity kept it from being at all heavy.

While good, off-dry Riesling is yummy on its own, I find Riesling even more amazing with the right foods. And, for me, the right foods are SPICY. I find the perfect pairing to be Ethiopian food (I love Ethiopian food SO. MUCH.). The slight sweetness cuts through the spices and creates such an incredible pairing. The Riesling goes down like water. Thai food is another good one to give a go with.

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Montinore Estate Off-Dry Riesling

This Montinore Estate Off-Dry Riesling, from Oregon, is the perfect intro into the world of Rieslings. Produced by the lovely Marchesi Family owned winery (who make wonderful Pinot Noirs and dry Rieslings, among other wines) this wine is consistently delicious and easy-drinking vintage to vintage. Check out more on Montinore Estate HERE.

This wine is also pretty widely distributed in the US and retails at about $13.99. Give it a go!

Gruner Veltliner (my personal favorite this summer)

I absolutely celebrate the day that I discovered Gruner Veltliner. Or, I would, if I could remember that day….

A story about Gruner Veltliner that I do remember is going to lunch with my sister, Meg, in Seattle, one rainy afternoon, to a restaurant I had read had a “really excellent wine list”. I was delighted to see a Gruner Veltliner on the glass list, as I typically loved them, and really wanted my Sis to try some (she was a Chardonnay-hater at the time and not really loving her Sauv Blanc alternatives). After ordering, the wine buyer came by our table and introduced himself. See, he was kind of excited to have someone actually order the Gruner on the list. We chatted about how awesome this grape is but he said he didn’t put it on the glass list much because it just sat there. He said there were 2 reasons for this:

1. people didn’t know what it was 2. people didn’t quite know how to pronounce it

Boo.

Gruner Veltliner is a white grape variety that is grown primarily in Austria, Slovekia, and the Czech Republic. It is the number one grape grown in Austria. Gruner’s are often dry (but not too dry) with nice, light fruit, flavors of white pepper and an awesome minerality. They are incredibly easy drinking and typically quite low (in US standards) in alcohol levels.

I so recommend picking up some Gruner Veltliner this summer. It has become my go-to summer wine (equal to my rosé love). Zippy, fresh, food-friendly…it’s a winner.

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Ewald Gruber Gruner Veltliner Roschitz

You will find a LOT of great offerings of Gruner Veltliner from Austria. I typically buy anything from the Wachu region (so. good.) and have not been disappointed.

This bottle above I discovered at Total Wine and it has been my go-to Gruner for a while. It is SO delicious. The descriptors used on Total Wine site are: Fresh, Crisp, Apple, Peach, Stone, Light-Bodied, Fruit-Driven. What’s not to love about that? YES and PLEASE. At $12.99 it’s a steal.

Falanghina

Don’t the Italians just do EVERYTHING well?

Eat, Live, Love, Make Sexy As HELL Movies, Cars, Fight, Cry….Food! Cheese! Long Lazy Afternoons in the Tuscany Countryside…Oh My.

So yes, WINE.

This grape, Falanghina, was my first, true, Italian white wine love. It was me dipping a toe into the Italian white wine unknown, which, henceforth, caused me to dive in (I’m still swimming…so much to discover!).

Falanghina is an Ancient Italian grape, mostly grown in Campania, in Southern Italy, near the sea. This wine is often enjoyed with seafood but, take my word, try it with pizza! I don’t think you will be sorry. On the nose, you will find a citrus blossom aroma, of bitter orange. And, on the palate it is quite pleasing and easy drinking, with classic apple and pear flavors and a slightly spicy or mineral note to the finish. MMMM.

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Right now, I don’t have a specific producer that I’m purchasing. When I come across this wine in a wine shop or grocery, I usually just grab a bottle. I’ve yet to be disappointed. Falanghina can retail anywhere between $12-$20 regularly. Ask your local wine shop. Or, I have seen most Whole Foods carry at least one bottle. The above label retails for $12.99.

Moschofilero

From…..GREECE!

This wine, and all Greek wines, are new to me this summer! I’m so excited to start exploring Greek wines from white to pink to red. However, I started with this particularly delightful wine at the recommendation of the awesome wine peeps at AJ’s Fine Foods in Phoenix, Arizona (they have an impressive wine program at all of their locations & very enthusiastic wine professionals to help you).

I was NOT disappointed in this wine and I don’t think you will be either.

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2012 Skouras Moscofilero

On the nose, this wine is all honeysuckle. It just pops out of the glass! This can be very deceiving because while it’s luscious and full-bodied on the palate, the spiciness and acidity keep it from being “sweet”.

I opened this wine on a Friday night and enjoyed a glass (or 2) with my current “easy” favorite menu: a big, leafy green salad with just some fine parm cheese and avocado, tossed with fresh lemon juice and some grapeseed oil and tossed with Maldon salt & pepper. I serve that with toasted rustic bread topped with goat cheese & fresh radish slices. OMG….it’s so good. And a really nice pairing with this wine.

It is worth mentioning that I had the rest of the bottle the next day, with my friend, Stacey, and I have to say, I think it was even better. Refreshing & easy-drinking on it’s own, it was an excellent apertif. Retailing at $12.99, this is an affordable wine to try.

There you have it! 4 REALLY different (and quite tasty) white wines to try.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoy sharing them. Salud!

2 comments on “Wine that doesn’t suck: Not all white wines are created equal

    • Yay! Please come back and share what you try. All of those wines are great but it was really fun to venture into the Greek wine world, as I never really considered it before.
      Cheers and thanks for reading!

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