Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris: Must-Have White Wines for the Summer
This article originally appeared, in part, in the August, 2019 issue of Bellingham Alive Magazine
Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris: a trio of tasty white wines with medium to high acidity at their core and unlimited food-paring potential. They’re an absolute must to have in your cellar year-round and even more highly recommended as go-to wines during the warmer summer months.
Look no further than Washington State for an excellent selection of these three white wines where they’re made in a wide range of flavors, styles, and sweetness levels from bone-dry to super-sweet.
RIESLING: VERSATILE AND AFFORDABLE
Riesling could arguably be called the most versatile wine you’ll find on the marketplace. Why? It’s one of the few wines – red or white – that sells well in a dry, off-dry, sweet, and late harvest (very sweet) style. It also does incredibly well as a sparkling wine – Yakima Valley’s Treveri Cellars Celebration Cuvée (about $20) is a great example – and it’s a terrific pairing partner with spicy foods when made with a bit of residual sugar.
Milbrandt Vineyards 2018 Sweet Katherine Riesling (about $13) – If you like big, expressive Rieslings, this latest release from the Prosser winery should easily put a smile on your face. Explosive white peach and nectarine flavors are capped by a honey-like finish that’s accentuated with refreshing, laser-sharp acidity.
SAUVIGNON BLANC: UNDERUSED AND UNDERRATED
Sauvignon Blanc’s high acidity is the key to its ability to pair with foods…perhaps even more so than Chardonnay. This feature allows the wine to cut through the fat content of foods and contrast well with anything cooked in butter or cream-based sauces.
Sauvignon Blanc may also be the quintessential wine to pair with seafood. Its oftentimes mineral-like characteristics make it a natural to serve with any seafood and shellfish will similar qualities.
Three of Cups 2018 Le Voeu Sauvignon Blanc (about $16) – Woodinville winemaker Mike Metheny hits a home run with this sensorially stunning new release. It features fragrant lemongrass and green herb aromatics, juicy ruby-red grapefruit flavors, and a weighty, yet vibrant lemon-drop finish.
PINOT GRIS: THE “NEWER KID ON THE BLOCK”
Pinot Gris barely registered as a Washington white wine varietal 15 to 20 years ago. Today, it ranks third in production behind Chardonnay and Riesling and continues its rise as an all-purpose crowd-pleaser with an easy-to-drink persona.
Pinot Gris isn’t a high-acid grape by nature. But by growing it in cooler areas or by harvesting it early, winemakers can achieve higher acidity levels to give the wine a brighter, crisper quality.
Gravel Bar Winery 2015 Pinot Grigio (about $16) – This Columbia Valley winery tends to hold back its white wines before release and this older vintage Pinot Gris is still drinking beautifully. There’s a faint whiff of petrol on the nose with pear, cantaloupe, and green melon flavors that provide a slightly round quality to balance out the crisp finishing note.