Corkscrew - Whites for chillin’

Beat the heat with some invigorating wines

It’s too damn hot to drink anything warm. Give me cold water, iced cappuccino and, most definitely, chilly white wine. I crave the sensation of a cool, sweaty bottle rolling across my beaded brow, and the taste of refreshing fruit-infused acidity in my mouth. It quenches ... it invigorates ... it just feels good.

Think about the food you hunger for during the heated months - fresh vegetables in a salad, chilled seafood, cold roasted chicken - all dishes that complement white wines. Acidity in the wine is key. It highlights the fresh ingredients in a dish and matches the sharpness in foods like tomato and citrus. Acidity delivers the zing, the tartness and the impression of crispness on the palate. If that’s what you seek, the highest acidity comes in Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio (gris) and Pinot Blanc. If you want the opposite - a softer, fuller-bodied wine with less acidity - then Chardonnay, Viognier and Riesling might scratch your itch.

Be careful how cold you serve white wines. I’ve tried the same wine at two different temperatures, hating it once and loving it the other, simply because the character evolved as it warmed up. Lower temperatures mask flavor; higher temperatures accentuate flavors, good or bad. It’s like drinking a fantastic, ice-cold beer that suddenly becomes disgusting when it warms up.

If a white wine doesn’t have much aroma or flavor after you’ve poured it into a glass, it’s probably in need of some warming. Let it rest for 15 minutes, or for faster results (about five minutes), cup the sides of the glass in two hands and use your body heat.

If you want to go by the book, the best serving temperature for most white wines is between 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit, but some higher-end Chardonnays (those not afraid of being “exposed” at higher temperatures) are better between 58-62 degrees.

corkscrew@creativeloafing.comRecommended WinesHope Estates 2004 Verdelho Hunter Valley (Australia). SW = 1. $10.

Image Image Image Image 1/2A fairly unknown grape originally from the island of Madeira in Portugal, I’m seeing a lot more of it lately, especially out of Australia. This wine tastes and smells like a lime margarita. Almost creamy in the mouth, yet bursts into a refreshingly acidic symphony of citrus with a drop of sweet mango pizzazz. If you like Sauvignon Blanc, you really should try Verdelho.

Morgan 2004 Pinot Gris Santa Lucia Highlands. SW = 2. $18.

Image Image Image Image Image Very decadent and full-bodied for a Pinot Gris. This one could please anyone seeking a heavier wine that still has the zingy grapefruit thing, but also has overripe pear, almonds and vanilla.

Murphy Goode 2002 Chardonnay Sonoma. SW = 2. $15.

Image Image Image Image Image A smooth, easy and comforting Chardonnay from one of my favorite wineries in California. Smells like Snuggle fabric softener, and tastes elegant with rich, oaky vanilla, ripe peaches, and an inkling of zesty lemon. This could easily be a buy-by-the-case everyday wine.

McManis 2004 Pinot Grigio California. SW = 1. $11.

Image Image Image Image Image Light and subtle green grass with crisp grapefruit flavors like a good New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc without the price tag. Also has that wet slate, minerally thing going on.

Talus 2004 Pinot Grigio Lodi. SW = 2. $8.

Image Image Image Image Image A perfect summer wine, with juicy passion fruit, fragrant honeydew melon, orange and energizing grapefruit in the smell as well in the sip. Great cookout wine.

Vina La Rosa 2004 Chardonnay Chachapoal Valley. SW = 3. $10.

Image Image Image Image Image Luscious tropical fruit aroma floats from the glass, with lime, pear and peach on the sip.

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