Think about going white as spring nears

We hear so much about red wine these days that it seems that white wine is taking a back seat in the wine consumption business. This happens every year as the skies grow dark and the snow falls; the idea of white wine just does not seem appealing. Well, I am here to tell you that spring is just around the corner and it is time to dust off the favorite white wine glasses. Here are a few lovely white wines to consider as the temps warm up;

Riesling &

173;"" I know that when I recommend this noble white wine grape most folks think of "sweet." Yes, it is true, most wonderful Rieslings tend to go to the sugar side but there are many wonderful and thirst-quenching Riesling out there that do not have a sweet backbone and are delicious with all kinds of cuisine.

Look at German Riesling with at least 11 percent alcohol. These are the "Troken" Rieslings and are fast becoming the belle of the ball because of their crispness, great acidity and powerful fruit with nuances of tropical flavors. Remember, for the most part, the lower the alcohol the sweeter the Riesling will be.

Those who love a shot of sugar in their Rieslings can get down to about 7 percent alcohol and find some real winners, such as the Loosen line of fine Mosel Rieslings. The advantage of the lower-alcohol Rieslings is that you won't get "stiffed" by the heady alcohol levels of some of the drier wines. The other great thing about lower alcohol Rieslings is that they, for the most part, keep their thirst-quenching properties while maintaining the sugar levels. This, sadly, does not occur outside of Germany very often so my suggestion to you is to go Germany for your Rieslings if you want some sugar as well as superb acidity.

Pinot Gris/Grigio &

Same grape, different names. Oregon is coming out with simply delicious Pinot Gris. Fine names such as Cristom, Ponzi, Roxyanne, Stangland and Tyee are leaders in this fine, mostly dry, white wine with distinction. The cool nights and warm days around the state make for fascinating Gris with complexity, length and freshness.

For my California readership, I urge you to step up to these amazing Oregon wines. Great with crab, shrimp and a variety of seafood, Gris is just the ticket for the warmer nights and less-filling appetites. Pinot Gris has the uncanny ability to satisfy without the resulting "fullness" we sometimes get from the big, oak-bombed Chardonnays.

Pinot Grigio &

173;"" There are many fine examples of this Italian-grown brother. The finer Grigio comes from the northeast around Friuli and the Veneto. These winea can be very elegant with hint of apple, melon and tropical flavors that really cut into the heavier fare of cream sauces such as Alfredo. Italian white wines have come so far in the last 15 years as almost defy description. We know of many Italian red wines but these white wines are charmers and lend themselves to so many cuisine offerings, from curry dishes to Pacific Rim delights. Not long ago we had a lovely Grigio with Mexican food and it was very crisp and palate cleansing. These are yummy wines.

Chardonnay &

Well, of course, many think of Chardonnay as the "queen" of the white wines. This may be true but times are a changin' and Chardonnay is getting its run for the money.

Nevertheless, we see sales of Chardonnay as very strong, especially the wines from Australia. These wines tend to be (if I am allowed to generalize) big and juicy with tons of oak and pretty high levels of alcohol. This is the old-school type of Chardonnay and some folks simply like this "more is better" approach to Chardonnay.

But we also have the subtle but creamy central coast Chardonnays as well as the crisp Macon from France. This is one white wine grape that seems to satisfy just about everyone because so many styles are offered! Again, stick to Chardonnay from about 12 percent to under 14 percent in alcohol. I think you will find these levels approachable and quite possibly more balanced. Okay, see you next week!

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