Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer, but the hot weather is almost certain to continue, even after the season officially ends Sept. 23. That means I’ll still be looking for some cool refreshment.
Some drinkers will opt for alternatives like hard seltzer, but I’ll stick to my wine. It could be rosé (I have some recommendations here) or a red made to be drunk chilled (like this frappato). Most often, though, I’ll choose a crisp white. I don’t want anything too oaky, heavy or high in alcohol. Rather, the following eight choices have zippy fruit and racy acidity, and they’re not too expensive (less than $25). All would pair well with lighter seafood or salads, and they would make fine aperitifs.
I have often commented that most Italian pinot grigio is white wine for people who don’t like flavor. Obviously, that’s a big generalization, and there are plenty of wines that are exceptions. One is the 2017 Gradis’ciutta Pinot Grigio ($22) from the Collio region of northeastern Italy; it’s fresh, fruity and persistent, with white fruit and an almond paste note. For the same grape, you can also look to Oregon and a wine like the 2018 Chehalem Pinot Gris ($20), which exhibits spicy aromas and flavors of lemon-lime and nectarine.
Another Italian white I’d recommend, this one from Tasca d’Almerita in Sicily, is the 2017 Regaleali Bianco ($15), a blend of inzolia, grecanico, catarratto and a bit of chardonnay. The wine offers bright pear and apple flavors, a hint of fig and enough weight to stand up to a richer seafood dish.
There are some great vermentinos from Italy, but this one hails from Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley: the 2018 Seghesio Vermentino ($24). It’s persistent and refreshing, with zingy citrus and Golden Delicious apple, a stony note and a hint of almond paste.
California chenin blanc is much less common than it used to be, but there are still a few good ones that are also quite affordable. The 2018 Dry Creek Vineyard Dry Chenin Blanc ($16), which I recommend every summer, displays bright apple flavors, refreshing acidity and decent weight. The grapes are from Clarksburg, source of some of the state’s best chenin. The 2017 Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc + Viognier ($16) adds 17 percent viognier, which lends richness and a note of dry honey.
Finally, we drink a lot of sauvignon blanc in the summer at my house. In addition to the grassier New Zealand versions, I like some of the rounder, melony bottlings from California, like the 2018 Ryder Estate Sauvignon Blanc ($17) and the 2018 Pope Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($20), a Napa Valley wine that also features white peach flavors.