Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Patio Pleasers: In summertime, the wines turn light.

As we approach summer, we adjust our tastes to wines that enhance this time of warm breezes and bright sunshine.

We look to quaffs that go well with get-togethers, whether on patios, decks or picnics. Food is usually present, but we don’t want any wine that is too heavy and will clash with rising temperatures and humidity. So, I’ve put a list together of light, easy-drinking bottles that are readily available and fit the bill of making our summertime even better.

Albarino is an apricot-scented wine from the province of Galicia in northern Spain. Legend has it that the fruit is related to riesling from Germany that has undergone centuries of cultivation to become the best seafood match on the Iberian peninsula. The same grape is known as alvarinho in Portugal, where it is used in the production of vinho verde or “green wine.”

Grillo is an obscure Sicilian grape that produces a wonderful white wine. Primarily used in the making of Marsala, this thick-skinned fruit produces a savory table wine when bottled alone, with notes of citrus and fruit and ending in an herbal finish. It’s an excellent summertime quaff that is more popular and available than ever before.

In the western hemisphere, we find Argentina’s most famous and widely planted white grape, torrontés. Light and savory, this wine boasts a floral bouquet, which fills the glass with the aroma of fresh-cut flowers. It’s a unique drink that displays the nuance of its cultivation in volcanic soils at high Andean altitudes.

One of the most popular white wines is pinot grigio from Italy. The best are from the mountainous regions of the European boot, but this version is not the one I prefer. Pinot gris is the same grape, reaching its zenith in the French area known as Alsace. The wine is fruity without overt sweetness, rich but in a way that finishes clean and has a mouth-feel that encourages another glass. Fine examples also can come from Oregon, where the wine is a little more austere, though still holding onto its Alsatian personality.

A first cousin of pinot gris is pinot blanc, both grapes mutations of pinot noir. The best are found from Germany, where the wine is light and amazingly refreshing. Not highly aromatic, with subtle fruit, it’s a clear winner when our weather turns sultry. A less-nuanced version is in Italy, where it is called pinot bianco. Certainly worth a try.

My favorite patio wine may be chenin blanc from France’s Loire Valley, where it is known as Vouvray. This wine has it all, with just the right amount of fruit and racy acidity that leads to a clean finish. This quaff has always impressed with its amazing personality as a crowd-pleaser, as well as a foil for cold foods and even desserts with fresh fruit. Available and affordable for you.

Keep sipping,

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