Shark Week has inspired us to put together a list of the following “Great Whites.” Included is an introduction to five crisp and casual alterna-sauvignon blancs to balance out the rest of summer’s heat.
[CHACK-a-lee] Basque country considers Txakoli one of their biggest charmers, and the grape has recently taken a seat with the popular kids here in the US. Typically served as an aperitif, Txakoli is traditionally poured from the bottle, held two feet above the glass. This festive pour style aerates the wine and gives it life, increasing the number of bubbles in the glass. Its effervescence, green apple tang, seaside minerality and bone-dry finish make it a great choice for warmer months and salty snacks or Pinxtos. Its beachy palate makes this wine ideal to pair with seafood.
[aus-ser-WHAH] A sibling of chardonnay, this low acid, cool-climate grape is grown traditionally in Alsace, has roots in Germany, and has recently been seen planted and harvested in Oregon dirt. Auxerrois makes medium-bodied wine with qualities that range from easy-drinking neutrality to ripe fruit to green vegetables – all of which depend upon production method and the aging process. Think of this grape as a quick, refreshing and unoaked white that’s perfect for the drinker who wants to try out a new white. Higher quality Auxerrois can be found offering more earthy distinction and rustic flower aromatics.
[VEE-nyoh VEHR-deh] The Vinho Verde region in northwestern Portugal sits right against the shoreline of the Atlantic Coast and makes for a lively, inexpensive and hassle-free drink. Vinho Verdes are traditionally made from a blend of lesser-known grapes like Arinto, Albarino, Azal, Loureiro and Trajadura. Literally translated as “green wine,” these are termed as such because of their marked youth. Bottling at such a young age gives these wines a sharp acidity and freshness that translates to slight fizziness on the tongue. These greens are a welcome alternative to the usual sauvignon blanc suspects. Pair them with raw shellfish.
[GROO-ner VEHLT-ly-ner] Austria's signature grape, this white is distinctively peppery, unwooded, refreshingly crisp and also ages unexpectedly well – the best Gruners are known for being expensive due to their great aging potential. The most unique thing about Grüner-Veltliner is their varietal versatility. These cover the drinker’s gamut from being made in an easy quaffing style to a more serious, complex wine built for aging.
[ver-mehn-TEE-noh] Vermentino is spreading as a favorite ''alternative'' white. This warm-climate loving varietal is a native to Sicily, where it makes a light, delicate and crisp white. Vermentino often gets overlooked alongside the abundance of other “v” wines, including Verduzzo, Verdejo and Verdicchio. These are meant to be consumed in their youth and are often served in Sicily as accompaniments to simple fried foods (their sprightliness elevates the crisp texture of fried foods).