You’re all stocked up on Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio for those soaring summer temperatures. But if you’re searching for some new thirst-quenching white wines to try this August, here are a few you should look out for on your wine store’s shelves.
Added bonus? If you’re not taking a big trip this summer, trying wines like these from all over the world is one way to broaden your horizons without having to deal with tourist hordes, airline employees or surly customs and immigration officers.
Albariño: From the Spanish region of Galicia, as well as northern Portugal (where they call it Alvarinho), this grape is used to make dry, rather acidic wines with lots of citrus and summer-fruit flavors like nectarine, as well as a minerality that’s often described as “briny.” Have it with grilled seafood and roasted vegetables. Here’s one to try.
Assyrtiko: A Greek variety known for producing crisp but complex white wines, you’ll find it growing mostly around the Aegean islands. Here’s a great example to taste.
Chenin Blanc: Yes, you can find a lot of bad Chenin Blanc out there, but if you look to its homeland, France’s Loire Valley (where it will be labeled by appellation, such as Vouvray or Savennières), as well as South Africa’s Stellenbosch, you can find some stellar iterations. Some of the best exhibit aromas of everything from pineapple and passion fruit to pear and peach. Though zingy and bright, Chenin Blanc produces wines that can also stand up to heartier fare like grilled chicken. Try this one from South Africa’s Swartland.
Grüner Veltliner: This increasingly popular variety comes from Austria, where it is grown on the gorgeous, undulating banks of the Danube. The wines made from it are crisp and refreshing, with fruit notes of citrus and apple as well as green notes like tarragon and thyme. Try this one to get a good benchmark of quality.
Muscadet: This is a French white made from melon de Bourgogne grapes, and tends to be puckery, almost salty, though with robust aromas of citrus, tropical fruits and an underlying richness as a result of being aged on its lees (the byproducts of fermentation). It’s most famously paired with oysters on the half-shell. Try this one.
Riesling: That’s right, Riesling! You might have tried some of the sweeter wines made from Germany’s noble grape, but there are some “bone-dry” versions that will set your teeth chattering and your mouth watering. I prefer something in the off-dry spectrum, like this one from Germany’s Mosel region that is acidic, but also luscious with notes of stone fruits and ginger. A great wine pairing for Chinese or Thai food.
Semillon: This white grape is often blended with Sauvignon Blanc in Bordeaux, but in Australia’s Margaret River and Hunter Valley regions, it is often the dominant variety in certain white wines. Its hallmarks are a straw-gold color, and notes of yellow fruits and honey, though it also often has enough acidity to keep it tasting lively and fresh. This is a great version to try and an excellent pairing for fresh fish and grilled seafood.
Torrontés: You might know Argentina for Malbec, but it also has a flagship white variety called Torrontés that produces very aromatic, floral wines with just the right balance of creaminess and acidity. Try this one as an aperitif on its own, or with some Asian cuisine.
Viognier: Originally from France’s Rhone Valley, this variety almost went extinct in the 1960s before finding popularity in Australia, the US and South America. Viognier can be complex and full-bodied with an almost oily texture (in a good way), or vivacious and spicy with notes of white flowers and ginger. Try this Californian version with delicious notes of pear and tangerine.
Viura: Viura is a Spanish white wine made from Macabeo grapes, and is produced primarily in Rioja, which is better known for its reds. More mellow than some of the other entries on this list, rather than a gut-punch of acidity, instead you’ll find flavors of melon, tropical fruit and summer flowers. This one is a great complement for salad or a light cheese plate.
Honestly, there are so many interesting white wines out there to try that you might not see every day. This was just a sampling. Stay tuned for a partner post just one white wines from Italy that you might not know about!
In the meantime, tweet me what you’ve been drinking @clustercrush.