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The Wine Revolution: Explore refreshing whites for warm days

As the warming breezes of spring float through the Valley, I start planning for the upcoming days ahead of sipping wine on the patio with friends. I am not sure how it is for you, but in the late spring and summer my husband and I virtually move outdoors.

Fresh fruit and salads take the place of the heartier fare that blesses our table in the colder months, and with it comes the refreshing white wines I save for warmer weather.

Now we all know that there are plenty of delicious, classic white wines out there — Rieslings, Chardonnays, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc, and they deserve their status without question. I, of course, in the interest of education and fun, encourage you to try something different this summer. Here are a few of my favorite white wines that fly a little under the radar.

Vihno Verde — This literally translates to “Green Wine” in Portuguese, named for its youth and freshness rather than color. While occasionally available in red and rose styles, the most common bottles you will find are white.

These are crisp, bright, citrusy and slightly fizzy wines perfect for picnics and patio lunches. Naturally low in alcohol, you can have a glass or two in the afternoon without requiring a siesta. These wines are meant to be drunk young (the year they are made) and will not hold up in a cellar, but if you become a fan of the style, you can usually pick up a bottle for under $15, allowing yourself easy access to the freshest bottles available.

Torrontes — This white grape is the current rising star of Argentina, and with just cause. Generally very affordable (good examples can be found for under $10), Torrontes is aromatic and sensual (think of Viognier with a little less alcohol and a lighter body) perfect to sip on its own or as an accompaniment for lighter fish dishes and sushi. Look for notes of nectarine and honeysuckle rounded by tart oranges and a hint of canned apricot.

Grüner Veltliner — This is an Austrian varietal, known for its bright acidity and food friendliness. Perfect on those warmer days, the wines have a characteristic spicy minerality, followed by citrus and peach notes. Personally, I sometimes can even taste hints of candied strawberries in these wines making them a distinctive pleasure. But don’t take my word for it, explore it yourself! Once again, you should be able to find a good example for under $15.

It is always important to remember that wine is meant to be enjoyed with food. While food and wine pairing can be intimidating at first, experimenting with new combinations of flavors is part of the joy of being a true wine lover. All of the wines I have mentioned will pay a wonderful compliment to the local produce available this time of year! Peas, Asparagus, Chard and Summer Squash as well as almost every herb you can think of all come into markets in June. Check out the North Bend and Carnation farmers’ markets for fresh ideas to try this season.

• Allison McCormick is a certified sommelier. E-mail her at

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