When the heat of summer arrives, fashionistas break out their white clothes, and we foodies break out our white wines.
And we break some wine rules in drinking them.
We want them low in alcohol, because alcohol makes us feel hot.
We drink them refreshingly cool, even down to 40 degrees – cooler than big reds, even cooler than regular whites.
We often like a bit of sweetness in the wines, to go with simple summer foods.
We drink them outdoors.
Some of the nicest summer whites are from grapes less familiar to us than the standard chards. Here’s a glossary of some of those grapes, plus tasting notes on the wines they make.
Summer white grapes
Airen: This is a simple white grape widely planted in Spain’s La Mancha region, adding light body and crisp acids to white wine blends.
Albarino: A popular white grape of Spain’s northern Galicia region, it makes light-bodied, crisp wines.
Caino blanco: Also from Galicia, this crisp, mineral-scented grape adds green apple zing to albarino in white blends.
Chenin blanc: Native to France’s Loire Valley, it makes light-bodied white wines with flavors of citrus, melon, honey and spice.
Glera: This light-skinned variety is the grape of prosecco. The wines can be dry to lightly sweet.
Loureiro: Grown in Spain’s Galicia region, it adds crispness and ripe apricot and pear flavors.
Macabeo: A major grape in Spain’s popular sparkling wines called cavas, (for the caves in which they are made), it’s crisp and lightly floral.
Moscato: A major white grape in northern Italy, it makes a low-alcohol, fizzy, spicy, citrus-flavored wine called Asti Spumante.
Parellada: Lively and crisp, it’s blended with macabeo and xarel-lo in Spain’s sparkling cava wines.
Verdejo: Grown in Spain, it makes a crisp, tart wine with citrus flavors.
Verdicchio: From Italy, it makes a light, crisp wine with fruity aromas and citrus flavors and a bitter almond finish.
Vermentino: Grown in Italy, it makes dry, crisp, spicy, low-alcohol wines with citrus and mineral flavors, often in blends.
Viognier: From France’s Rhone Valley, it has intense, spicy peach and vanilla aromas and flavors.
Xarel-lo: It’s an extra-crisp white grape from Spain’s Catalonia region.
Summer white wines
• Nonvintage Jaume Serra “Cristalino” Brut Cava (Spanish sparkling wine, 50 percent macabeo, 35 percent parellada, 15 percent xarel-lo, 11.5 percent alcohol): light and sweet and spritzy, with toasty aroma and flavors of sweet apples and minerals; $12.
• 2013 Terra d’Oro Winery Chenin Blanc/Viognier, Clarksburg, California (87 percent chenin blanc, 13 percent viognier, 12.5 percent alcohol): floral aromas, sweet flavors of ripe peaches, mangos and pineapples; $16.
• 2013 Vitiano Bianco Umbria White Wine, IGT Italy (50 percent vermentino, 50 percent verdicchio, 12.5 percent alcohol): crisp and dry, with aromas and flavors of lemons and golden apples; $12.
• 2012 Verderol Verdejo, by Bodegas Hijos de Alberto Gutierrez, Rueda, Spain (100 percent white verdejo, 12.9 percent alcohol): soft, light and dry, with aromas of and flavors of lemons and cloves; $10.
• 2013 Terras Gauda “O Rosal” White Wine, Rias Baixas, DO Spain (70 percent albarino, 15 percent loureiro, 15 percent caino blanco, 12.5 percent alcohol): sweet and rich, with flavors of peaches and minerals and crisp acids; $24.
• Nonvintage “Opera Prima” Brut Sparkling Wine, by J. Garcia Carrion, La Mancha, Spain (airen and macabeo grapes, 11 percent alcohol): fizzy, sweet and grapey, with citrus and spice flavors; $8.
• Nonvintage Lamarca Prosecco, Veneto, Italy (100 percent glera, 11.3 percent alcohol): fizzy, dry and crisp, with aromas and flavors of pears, lemons and minerals; $17.