With summer just about here, try a couple of refreshing white wines that you can drink almost any time, either on their own or with a variety of foods. When I think of such wines, I gravitate to those with moderate levels of alcohol and little or no exposure to oak. I’ll leave the big, buttery chardonnays for other occasions or other seasons.
The first new release is a white from South Africa, Simonsig’s excellent 2010 “Sunbird” Sauvignon Blanc. This tangy $14 wine from the Stellenbosch region has classic sauvignon tastes of gooseberry and lime, is slightly tart and has a subtle and intriguing smoky note. Enjoy it with all kinds of simply prepared fish and shellfish, goat cheeses and dishes that feature fresh local vegetables appearing in markets now, including asparagus and sugar snap peas. The alcohol is 13.5 percent. Imported by Quintessential Wines, Napa, Calif.
Another great choice is from Italy, and it begs the question: When was the last time you had a Soave? This white wine from the Veneto region in the north had its heyday in the U.S. sometime in the mid- to late-20th century, thanks to such big brands as Bolla. Then it was eclipsed by pinot grigio, which, for better or worse, remains all but synonymous with Italian white wine.
But these days, Soave is seeing a resurgence (based in part on a new marketing campaign), and for good reason. Soave is named for the region near Verona where the grapes, mainly the garganega variety, are grown. While some Soave is classified as higher-quality “classico” or “superiore,” it was a basic Soave that caught my attention when I tasted it recently.
Cantina di Soave’s 2011 Re Midas Soave was simply delicious with its notes of pear and apple, a hint of orange and a little cream. Though alcohol is just 12 percent, this $10 estate-bottled wine showed a surprising richness. It’s great for sipping on its own and will pair with fish, grilled chicken and pork. Imported by MW Imports, Brooklyn, N.Y.
What’s your favorite summer white? Let us know by leaving a comment.
Edward Deitch is a James Beard Award-winning wine critic. Find many more of his wine reviews and commentary on his blog, Vint-ed.com, and follow him on Twitter.
More from TODAY Food: