With the birds chirping, the sun shining and the temperatures rising, it’s time to emerge from my winter of red wine and lighten things up a bit.
Don’t get me wrong, I drink red wine all year long, even on those 100-plus-degree days with 80-percent humidity in July in August.
But, I definitely lighten and whiten it up in the spring and summer.
My go-to white wine in the spring and summer — fall and winter for that matter — is Sauvignon Blanc. I’m particularly fond of the ones from Chile, but I hope to write a whole article on that subject down the road, so I’ll save my thoughts and recommendations on that front for another day.
Instead, let me head to South Africa, a surprising source of tasty, well-priced Sauvignon Blanc selections. I’ve had a number of South African Sauvignon Blancs that I’ve enjoyed, but the one I keep going back to is Mulderbosch.
A mouthful to pronounce and spell, the Mulderbosch is quite easy to drink. Mulderbosch managed to strike just the right balance between the sometimes sweet Sauvignon Blancs out of California and the often over-the-top grassy/Gooseberry-infused bottlings from Marlborough, New Zealand.
Perfect on its own, this Sauvignon Blanc would also compliment lighter-style white cheeses (think creamy goat cheese) and mild seafood.
For a second springtime sipper, I’m going to throw you a bit of a curve ball, which makes sense since it’s baseball season.
If you want something different, head to Itlay’s, Umbria, and the Colli Martani appellation south of the capital of Perugia. It’s there I discovered a wine called Grecante by Arnaldo-Caprai.
I love this wine, which is 100 percent Grechetto, aged three months in steel, then a minimum of three more months in bottle. A fresh, crisp wine, the Grecante is best served chilled, and makes a perfect aperitif. Remember those 100-plus-degree days I mentioned earlier? Think Grecante. You will not be disappointed.
Sparkling wine is great any time of the year, in my opinion, and any time of the day. As much as I love Champagne, even the everyday Bruts can be a little pricy for my pocketbook.
Fortunately, there’s an ocean of sparkling alternatives. Some of the best values in sparkling wine the world over hail from Spain, and nearly all sparklers from Spain originate in the Penedas region south of Barcelona.
A recent discovery for me is the Jaume Serra Cristralino Brut Cava. I could tell you what the grape blend is, but honestly, unless you’re studying for the Master Sommelier or Master of Wine exam, the varieties aren’t likely to ring any bells.
What will resonate, though, are the citrus, green apple, and mineral flavors, and the wine’s lovely, bracing acidity. Plus at $12 a bottle, you can buy multiple bottles of the Cristralino and have one chilled down for whenever the mood or moment for a sparkling wine strikes you.
Okay, two whites and a sparkling, it’s time for me to leave you with at least one red wine you can enjoy in the Dog Days of summer as well as the shoulder seasons of spring and fall.
I was going to direct you to Chianti, always a favorite of mine. But as much as I love these Sangiovese-based gems, they can be a bit lean, acidic, and tannic, especially if you attempt them without food. Instead, let me send you in the direction of Pinot Noir.
Pinot Noir, a grape native to Burgundy, France, is grown all over the world with varying degrees of success. Lately, I’ve been enjoying some of the New Zealand offerings.
These bottlings come almost exclusively from two regions — Marlborough and Central Otago. A new producer for me is Spy Valley, which makes a large ranges of wines, mainly white. However, it was Spy Valley’s Marlborough Pinot Noir that grabbed my attention.
Brimming with bright cherry and strawberry fruit, but balanced with a hint of earthiness and a dash of spice, this wine is the perfect weight for hotter weather, and a great complement to a wide range of cuisine.
So there you have it, four wine choices for at least four months of hot weather. Enjoy.
Dave Eckert is the producer and host of “Culinary Travels With Dave Eckert,” which aired on PBS-TV and Wealth TV for 12 seasons, or nearly 300 half-hour episodes produced on six continents. Eckert is also an avid wine collector and aficionado, having amassed a personal wine cellar of some 2,000 bottles.