OK, there is no getting around it: Triple digits are on the way, if not this week then in our immediate future. But before you pull out the blender for daiquiris, or the limes and Coronas, consider keeping light white wines in your home entertainment repertoire.
Sure you can chill them, and even pour over ice. Many of the brighter, unoaked or slightly oaked styles from around the globe are perfectly suitable for sipping around the pool or served with fresh summer fare like green or fruit salads, fish or cheese or cold pasta dishes. Chips and salsa and chilled Albariño from Spain screams of summer. Vinho Verde, a low-alcohol semi-sparkling white from Portugal, is full of refreshing citrus-apple impressions.
“Low alcohol” is an important phrase here. Heat and alcohol do not mix.
All of this said, there truly are some great wines to sip this summer.
Three Thieves 2005 Unoaked Chardonnay, one-liter format: I love the irreverence of this central coast winemaker. The jug conveys picnics and pool parties where you want to pass this lively white blend around. In addition to Lodiand Monterey-sourced chardonnay, smaller amounts of chenin blanc, muscat and gewürztraminer flesh an already medium-bodied beauty packed with fresh fruit and crisp acidity. Again, the wine is unoaked and lower in alcohol at 13 percent. A steal from The Thieves at $11.
Mouton Cadet Blanc 2004, Bordeaux: From one of the most widely distributed and accessible brands from Bordeaux, this bottle exemplifies regional greatness without the steep price tag. The classic white bordeaux blend of semillon, sauvignon blanc and muscadelle is now designed to be somewhat rounder and fruitier than past vintages. This tells me the winemakers are taking a cue from Australia and California. In the past it’s been the French way or the highway, so to speak. Consumers are the real winner. Chill and sip poolside and imagine you are in Nice watching the yachts cruise by. $10.
Chumeia 2005 Silver Nectar, Mendoza, Argentina: As its name implies, the wine is offdry, or leans toward the sweet side, which is great with spicier foods or even a seafood paella. Made from 75 percent Torrontes, a wildly aromatic and lush variety, and finished with 25 percent chenin blanc, the wine shows wonderful honey-apricot and sweetpeach notes and moderate acidity. I’m seeing currydusted chicken satays in this wine’s future.
Montevina 2005 Terra d’Oro Pinot Grigio, Santa Barbara County: Interest in this grape variety has skyrocketed the past few years as a backlash to large, rich, oaky chardonnays, and this bottle displays the clean bursts of freshness we’ve come to like about pinot grigio — without excess acidity. Ninety percent of the wine is fermented in stainless steel, while the balance rests on oak, which adds some creaminess. Think tart apple pie on this one. You want that a la mode? It’s in here. $18.
Mark Nothaft will discuss high-end margaritas with “Sonoran Living Live” host Tracy Kornet 9 to 10 a.m. May 3 on KNXV-TV (Channel 15).