Yep, it’s September — supposedly the end of summer and the end of the summer wine. But it’s still hot. Too hot to think of drinking those hearty red wines that are stashed in my wine cabinet. The heat won’t dissipate for another few weeks, so I’m going to have to purchase a few more bottles of that white stuff.
I love the idea of sitting out on the patio of a summer evening with a lovely glass of crisp Sauvignon Blanc or an off-dry (slightly sweet) Riesling, maybe a Viognier with a hint of tropical fruit like papaya or pineapple, or something new and not all that common — Symphony which is light and fruity with a floral aroma, slightly on the sweet side. A perfect “patio wine.” It’s such a charming picture, but the problem is that the temperature hovers around 100 until late at night, so sitting outside of an evening isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Over the summer I’ve been buying white wine and was intrigued and rather amused when the 99 Cent Only store started selling wine — not for 99 cents, though. But still, I just had to try some.. I started with the Pinot Grigio from Moldova. (Actually, I wrote about this a few months ago and you can find it if you check out Wines in my categories list.) I bought it just because it was a pretty bottle. The wine itself, eh, not that great. It was mild with a melony flavor of, perhaps, cantaloupe that was tending toward overripe. Although I wasn’t thrilled with it, I did use it to deglaze the pan after I’d cooked pork chops. And hey, the bottles look mighty fine on the patio table holding candles.
So the next experiment with wine from the 99 Cent Only store was Torrentes from Argentina. Worth a try and although I haven’t had a lot Torrentes, when I’ve tasted it, I’ve liked it. (One of the things I like most is saying the name: Tor-Ron-Tess! You sort of roll the r’s with a flourish and imagine you’re in Spain.) Anyway, this one turned out to be pretty decent. There was some light exotic fruit — guava or lychee — on the palate and then a hint of orange at the finish. Not bad for $3.99. Will I stock up on it? Probably not.
One of my “go to” whites used to be Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, so the last time I was at the market I grabbed a bottle. Either I’ve mis-remembered it or they have changed it. Probably a bit of both. The classic description of Sauvignon Blanc is “cat pee on gooseberries.” Not terribly appealing. Grapefruit is perhaps more apt and a gentler way of describing it. When I opened it, swirled and sniffed, it smelled right, but the first sip set me back on my heels. Sharp citrus. The second sip confirmed that (the first sip never truly tells the story). Grapefruit and lemon. Ouch! Not a sipping wine for sure. But, I had cooked some salmon and it was a wonderful complement. So, okay, that particular Sauvignon Blanc might not be a patio wine, but it sure did well by the food.
And finally we come to my “go-to” white for sipping: Beringer Chenin Blanc. It has several merits — it’s light and smooth (no bite), is just a tad on the sweet side, it’s readily available (no need to go to the wine store), and it’s definitely value-priced at around $5 a bottle.
Now that I’ve finished off the Torrentes and the Sauvignon Blanc, I’m going to stick with the Beringer for the rest of the summer, looking forward to the time when it’s cool enough to open a nice Syrah or Merlot!