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Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard
Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard

White Hot American Summer

If I’m pushing the mower in the high heat, I’m going to have a crisp lager in my hand—wet, cold, and refreshing. But for most outdoor drinking occasions, refreshing white wines seem to fill my yearnings in a “patio pounder.” While more people are getting away from the overly hopped IPAs during the summer, we’re seeing the same transition in wine away from the ubiquitous pinot grigios and chardonnays.

Many of the white options that over-deliver are grapes or regions not as well known as our usual suspects, hence the lower price tag for what you get. You can decide if you want a lighter or fuller bodied wine and then it’s time to look for flavors and textures you find most appealing. So drink all of these and more this summer and decide what’s your next pinot or chardonnay:

Albarino

Look to the Rias Baixas region in Northwest Spain for one of the most undervalued whites in the world, even though good Albarino typically falls into the $15-$20 range. It has the body of chardonnay, but with the minimalist approach to fermenting and aging that brings you a range of citrus, stonefruit, and mineral flavors while retaining a crisp edge. Their goal is to not screw up what’s already good.

Chenin Blanc

Another full-bodied white wine, chenin blanc can take on many forms of wine, whether it’s dry, sweet, still, or sparkling, especially out of the Loire Valley in France. Some offerings can be very sublime after a little age while others are vibrant, fruity, and fresh in their youth.

Riesling

Yes, many rieslings are sweet, but more and more are available on the dry side. They’re much lighter in body but they can really drive flavor and give you a story of their home, especially with German rieslings. These wines can really be over the top when paired with spicy and more exotic foods. The key is to ask for recommendations because the range in quality varies a lot in the $10-$15 range.

Rosé

Okay, it’s not white, but I like to think of it as white wine in a red wine body. It has the textural components of white wine but the brief maceration squeezes out a little bit of the red wine flavors. We’re not referring to blush wines. We’re talking dry, pink wines that add another option to your new patio-drinking arsenal. You can now find more Provence offerings under $20 along with many more producers creating their take on dry rose.

Random French & Italian Whites

The opportunities here are endless, especially in Italy, where every next village will make a wine from a different grape. This is where you can have some fun exploring and not break the bank. Go to your local bottle source and just ask for a crisp French or Italian white under $10 or $15 and see where it takes you.

The opportunities here are endless and that’s what you’ll learn when you get into conversations at your local bottle shops. There are so many options on the market, but more choices can work to your advantage. While the offerings and trying to select the right wines can be daunting, it’s definitely fun trying a lot of them.

Donnie Austin is the man behind the concept (and sometimes the counter) at House Wine in Worthington, which holds weekly tastings on Thurdays. For more, visit housewine.biz.

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