When I was traveling and filming my television show, Culinary Travels with Dave Eckert, one of the questions I got asked all the time was, “What’s your favorite wine?”
Of course, it’s an impossible question to answer. There are simply too many wines and too many variables — what type of cuisine are you having, what time of year is it, what kind of mood are you in, who are you sharing the wine with and on and on.
However, this much I could say: My favorite wine in the summer is Sauvignon Blanc, and it’s not even close.
Why you ask? Well, I can list a dozen reasons or more, but let me elaborate on the top few.
First, Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most versatile grapes in the world, finding success from its native regions of the Loire Valley and Bordeaux in France to New World locations like Marlborough, New Zealand, and Chile’s Leyda Valley.
And, you know what, I love them all!
The Loire Valley features Sauvignon Blancs labeled Sancerre or Pouilly Fume — acidic Sauvignons that can make your lips purse, but are perhaps the best matches for shellfish in the world.
In Bordeaux, Sauvignon Blanc is blended with Semillion to create a richer wine with flavors and aromas of ripe melons.
From Marlborough, you’ll find gooseberry-infused fruit bombs that some people consider over-the-top, but on a sweltering day in the middle of a Kansas City summer couldn’t be more refreshing.
And, from new regions in Chile, like the aforementioned Leyda Valley in the center of the country or the Elqui Valley in the north of Chile, come versions that are somewhere in between France and New Zealand’s offerings.
Here, you will find Sauvignons that are crisp and refreshing with a terrific balance between the fruit and the acidity. They are perhaps my favorite Sauvignons the world over.
There are plenty of Sauvignon Blancs from the United States. These often have a touch of sweetness and sometimes more than a touch of oak. I have to admit they’re not my favorites.
So, I enjoy the flavors, aromas, and flexibility of Sauvignon Blanc, but what I like even more is their affinity for cuisine. More than any other white wine in the world, Sauvignon Blanc works with an amazing array of food.
Seafood is right in the Sauvignon Blanc wheelhouse, but don’t discount SB’s with everything from Spicy Thai and Mexican — the sweeter U.S. versions work particularly well here — to chicken wings hot off the grill — I had a Marlborough SB with my barbecue-rubbed/New Orleans-spiced wings recently and it was delicious.
Or try pan-searing some scallops in butter than topping them with a little lemon zest. If that’s not a recipe for a Sancerre or Pouilly Fume, I don’t know what is.
Lastly, the thing I really appreciate about Sauvignon Blanc, and this is my grandmother talking here, is the price. They have to be the most affordable, quality white wines on the market.
You can get a decent Sauvignon Blanc for around $10 and you can get an outstanding one for $15. Watch the vintage, though. Most aren’t built for aging, so make sure they’re no more than a year or two old.
So, there you have it: attractive flavors and aromas, stylistic flexibility to match any mood or food, and a price that won’t break the bank —what more could you want?
So, put down that Chardonnay and crack open an SB. You won’t be disappointed. If you are, call me up and I’ll help you finish the bottle.
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.