Easy, Fun, Summer Whites
I just discovered Famega Vinho Verde from Portugal. I paid $4.99 for it.....no kidding, it was cheaper than my toothpaste. I am going back for a case or two.
It is a terrific little summer white wine with low alcohol content and some nice FIZZ!!! It smells a little green and herbal, tastes a bit like fresh apple with lime...and it is unusually clear in color. At first pour-I thought maybe I bought seltzer instead of wine :) It might just replace my homemade Sangria as this years fun summer wine drink.
I had never purchased anything like this before. I was fairly convinced it would taste like Kool-Aid but was talked into giving it a go. I bought it to drink it by itself, unsure of its "drink ability" or "pair ability"- but quickly decided on a shrimp salad to pair with it. Delicious! Fresh! I know it will go great with salads, light seafood, fresh tomato, etc. Patio food!
I am now inspired to look for other fun, unusual, cheap, fresh summer whites that I might have missed. Please give me your rec's.
So many, but stick with the Iberian peninsula to start. Non vinho verde whites from Portugal (Serras de Azeitao, for one) are blends of local varietals, and can be deliciously fresh, floral, and crisp, and cheap ($<10). From Spain, anything made with Verdejo or , less interestingly, Viura grapes (the Marques de Caceres Rueda white @ $9 is a great value) fit the bill; also from Spain, now the NW region of Galicia, at slightly higher price points, Albarino or a Godello from Bierzo--a little more minerality and salt in the mix, and addictively quaffable. For really inexpensive whites ($5/bottle), Walnut Crest, Carta Vieja, Cono Sur, and other large Chilean producers offer very attractive chardonnays and sauvignon blancs. Farther afield, you can often find liters of flinty Austrian Gruner Veltliner for <$10.
Don't go there for too many wines, but TJ's has a "fine" Vinho Verde for $3.99. Always start out the summer with a case of that. Too good a price to pass up.
We dring a lot of Albarino (same grape, different country) in the summer, too. Not as inexpensive, though, but generally better structured.
I went to T.J.'s yesterday with my list from here! I found a few of the grapes listed from bob96, but not many. I bought some things to try out this week. I only found one other Vinho Verde there and it was 7.99- so I will check back in a few weeks.
I really want "grocery store" bottles of light, fun, whites. I have a cellar full of delicious (and extremely pricey) whites...but when my 20 something daughters (and friends) arrive in June.... well, let's just say that the 21 year old was the kid that poured orange juice in her 1983 Cristal Champagne Christmas morning.... "to make it taste better"! They grew up with a wine collecting family, so they don't drink swill, but they don't fully appreciate an aged Montrachet - and being college kids- they drink more than a glass or two.....so ..... I need cheap!
Keep the rec's coming, I appreciate it.
TJ's report: Northern CA region:
The Vinho Verde and Villa Cerrina Chardonnay/Pinot Grigio ($3.99) are both Out of Stock at the moment, but hopefully will become available in the next week or so.
Autumnus ($3.99) by Pacific Rim is a very slightly off-dry blend of Riesling, Chenin Blanc and Gewurztraminer. It's got a great label and a screw top. Yummy! : )
Grigio Luna ($4.99) is a nice Pinot Grigio with a good balance of fruit & acidity
We have a few French whites (Muscadet, Chablis, Gewurztraminer, Graves) that are pretty good for between $6-$9. Nothing outrageous, but decent for the price point.
Also, the Joseph Handler Riesling ($4.99) is light, off-dry and peachy fun goodness.
And of course we now have the TJ's Block (aka Box) wine in Chardonnay and Shiraz from Australia: $9.99 for 3 liters. Now, I haven't tried it yet, but I doubt we'd bring super bad plonk all the way across the ocean. Might not fit the criteria, but I thought I'd mention it.