Yes; you read that correctly. I said racy! The summer is just around the corner. Warm nights, outdoor gatherings, pool parties, and fresh food all mean you’re probably looking for some refreshing and light types of white wine. Perfect for racy wine! “Racy” is actually a wine term that means acidic, tart, and refreshing. It’s probably my favorite wine term.
Okay. Let’s cut to the chase and learn more about these refreshing and lively wines!
Rieslings come in both dry and several levels of sweet. I suggest trying an inexpensive dry Riesling from the Mosel region of Germany, which is one of my favorite wine regions. Mosel vineyards are on steep hills (and we’re talking SUPER steep) where the river Mosel reflects sunlight and warms the vines and soil! Furthermore, if you want to splurge a little, but not break the bank, look for a Kabinett Riesling. On the other hand, if you’re looking for an American Riesling that’s an awesome value, check out Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl. Charles Smith himself suggests pairing spicy Asian dishes with this Riesling. Thai curry here I come!
I did a wine tasting at a local winery, and the guy leading it had us taste Albariño in between two red wines. Now, if you’ve done a tasting or two, you’ll know instantly this is weird. But he did this for a very good reason. Even though this is a white wine, its fresh flavors wiped out the red wine we had before. Karen MacNeil in The Wine Bible describes Albariño’s flavors at citrus and a little floral, and that it’s one of the best wines to pair with seafood. All I remember was the refreshing citrus taste. I bet this wine would be great in a white wine sangria!
If you want to know why tasting a white in between two reds is weird, or just want to learn more about wine tasting in general, I cover wine tasting basics so you can go out into your wine world and taste like a pro!
New World Sauvignon Blanc
You’re probably asking me: “Okay dude, what is New World Sauvignon Blanc?” New World simply means any wine region that is not where winemaking originally started. In other words, basically anywhere outside of Europe and part of the Middle East. Additionally, these types of white wine often have more fruit flavor than their old world counterparts, and Sauvignon Blanc is a good example.
New Zealand is the center of new world Sauvignon Blancs. These wines are bursting with tropical fruit flavors like mango, pineapple, and passion fruit on top of fresh herbs like basil.
Vinho Verde (veen-yo ver-day)
If you’re looking for something more highbrow and artisan than hard seltzer (I’ll admit, hard seltzer is really great), Vinho Verde is the way to go! Vinho Verde, Portuguese for “green wine,” is my summer favorite! Vinho Verde is not a grape, but a region in Portugal. Wine Enthusiast mentions that while many people think this wine gets its name from its fresh and youthful taste, it’s actually the area’s lush and green environment that is where it gets its name from.
Vinho Verde is therefore a blend, and the main grape is usually Albariño (called Alvarinho in Portuguese). The flavors are full of lemon and green apple acid, followed by stonefruit (peach, apricot, nectarine) and just a tiny bit of fresh herbs. It’s also lower in alcohol, (between 9-11% in my experience) which means it’s a lower calorie wine. Many Vinho Verdes are bubbly, and they’re pretty cheap too with many bottles coming in at under $10!
This Greek wine is an undiscovered gem. While it seems to be one of the rarer types of white wine (that is, not as available as something like Merlot), I was able to find it at my Total Wine and More store. It’s surprisingly got many different flavors. In short, Assyrtiko has green apple acid, passion fruit, honey, salt, and some earthiness. It has a sort of aromatic quality to it. What’s more is I was surprised to discover that, as opposed to Vinho Verde, this bottle is 14% alcohol! And it’s obviously great with Greek chicken. I expect it to become more popular as more wine lovers learn about it.
One pro tip for these types of white wine:
These summer white wines are best enjoyed cold. But if you want to taste all their flavors, I suggest letting them warm up a little (just let them sit or hold the glass in your hand for a few minutes). To explain: cold wines don’t evaporate as much, which can dim their flavor notes.
Pairing racy white wines:
All of these wines pair well with fresh summer foods. Think chicken, vegetables, citrus and tropical fruits, Mediterranean cuisine, salads, seafood (both fish and shellfish), and fresh herbs. I personally would like to pair one of these wines with fish tacos, ceviche, and salsa with lots of lime and cilantro.