Cool off with whites and reds ideally suited for picnics, grilling, and outdoor parties
1. WILD ROCK "ELEVATION" MARLBOROUGH SAUVIGNON BLANC 2008
New Zealand's Marlborough region is known for its crisply acidic Sauvignon Blanc, but this one (made by the folks who produce top-end Craggy Range wine) has been elevated with dollops of fragrant Viognier and Riesling, which add complexity. The result is refreshing floral fruitiness with an edge of tingling, tart, herbal flavors. One sip gives you goose bumps in addition to the iconic Sauvignon gooseberry flavor.
Grilled Shrimp and Vegetables with Pearl Couscous
Shellfish + a crisp white = a sure thing. And the sauce's fresh herbs complement the Sauvignon's spice.
Orzo, Green Bean, and Fennel Salad with Dill Pesto
Green meets green: Lemongrass, lime, and herbs in the wine hold their own against the dish's strong pesto flavor without overwhelming the vegetables.
2. SALNEVAL VALLE des SALNES RÍAS BAIXAS ALBARIѐO 2007
The Rías Baixas area, in the mountains along Spain's wet, cool Atlantic Coast, gave the world a perfect summer wine, Albariño-low-alcohol, light, but full of stone-fruit flavors, with great finishing acidity. This cooperative's more than 360 growers use the ancient pergola system, where the vines form a flat surface across trellises at head level for more sunlight and drying breezes. It's a real bargain bottle, with juicy, peachy notes and a touch of chalkiness.
Peachy Grilled Chicken Salad
The peaches in the salad and in the Albariños match, and the sherry vinegar in the dressing adds winelike sweetness and depth to the salad.
Mexican Pineapple Salad
Great textural contrasts here in the creamy avocado, tangy pineapple, and chalky-acidic wine.
3. PACIFIC RIM COLUMBIA VALLEY DRY RIESLING 2006
This is not a sweet Riesling. Pacific Rim, another winery owned by legendary maverick (and Riesling fanatic) Randall Grahm, offers an international blend of fruit from Washington State and Germany . It is the perfect summer quaffer. Fuller in body than many other dry Rieslings, this vintage has refreshing orange and other citrus flavors blended with a pleasant metallic minerality and a tart finish.
Tatsoi and Warm Scallop Salad with Spicy Pecan Praline
Many of the world's best Rieslings are grown near oceans, so scallops have always been a natural pairing.
Over the past decade, Riesling has claimed the mantle of best match for spicy Asian food, and it certainly favors this curry.
4. MONTES "CHERUB" COLCHAGUA VALLEY ROSÉ OF SYRAH 2008
The ideal rosé balances fruit and acidity. This one, from one of Chile 's premier wineries, tiptoes that tightwire perfectly. Cherub has mature strawberry and raspberry flavors, with a trace of licorice lingering in the finish. Its screw-cap is picnic-perfect; no forgotten corkscrew woes, no leftover leakage in the basket.
Roast Beef Sandwiches with Lemon-Basil Mayonnaise
To stand up to beef-even sliced in a sandwich-a rosé needs a dry fruitiness and firm acidity, and this one delivers both.
Grilled Vegetable and Mozzarella Panini
What works: the panini's balsamic vinegar and the wine's fresh berries-as well as the dish's earthy eggplant and the vino's licorice notes.
5. JOSEPH DROUHIN BEAUJOLAIS VILLAGES 2007
Beaujolais can be overly fruity or dreadfully dull, but this one, made by Véronique Drouhin of the famed Burgundy clan, greets you with rose-petal aromas and just enough ripe-cherry flavors to say "summer." It finishes with a food-friendly chalkiness and cleansing acidity-both of which leave the palate wanting another sip. The combination of moderate fruit and light structure makes it ideal with lighter grilled meats, such as lean lamb, nonbeef sausage, and chicken, as well as tomato-saucy pizzas and pastas.
Grilled Marinated Leg of Lamb
Although this light white wine is a self-contained dessert, it becomes a playmate when fresh-fruit dishes reach the table.
Wheat-Berry Salad with Grilled Tofu
Soy sauce, used in this dish to marinate the tofu, is an almost-meaty, salty flavor bridge to lighter red wines such as Beaujolais .
Prices and availability subject to change.
Roger Morris writes about wine, food, and travel for a variety of publications, including Robb Report, Beverage Media, Saveur, and The Wine Enthusiast.
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