Great Summer Wines under $15

Springtime came early this year, which only means one thing in Savannah; summer will come even earlier.  And while the first self-reflective question each Savannahian asks is why they ate so many winter cheesecakes, the second should follow centuries of southern tradition, “What are we drinking?”  Great question!

Summer wine means white wine, almost everyone will agree.  And while California Chardonnay and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc are classics I would never dismiss, and German Riesling has enjoyed a resurgence in recent summers, I’d like to think of myself as being a somewhat adventurous drinker.  Summer 2013 is all about adventurous and interesting white wines… the Summer of Iberian Whites!

The Iberian Peninsula, home to Spain, Portugal, Andorra, and far Southwestern France, is a famed wine-growing region with impressive pedigree and a generally hot climate.  Essentially, these regions know how to party Summer Style!  These crisp, fruity, refreshing wines are perfect for sitting on your patio or in the park and perfectly pair with seafood and summer salads.

Albariño is a classic Spanish grape grown along the Atlantic, a coastline shared with Portugal where the grape is known as Alvarinho.  These wines are ideal for Savannah’s long summer days and muggy nights with zesty citrus, peach, and apricot notes being common attributes.  I’ve personally taste-tested quite a few of these wines recently (It’s a hard job, but someone has to do it) and I haven’t run into a single one I didn’t enjoy.  Great Deal at $13Honestly.  And with the average bottle running $10-15, you simply can’t go wrong.  The 2011 Licia Albariño I enjoyed last week was a rock star concoction of apple, pear, and lemon for a mere $13.

Vinho Verde is the classic Portuguese wine.  In a somewhat confusing twist, Vinho Verde is not the name of a grape, but a blend of grapes produced solely in the Minho district of Northern Portugal.  Even MORE confusing is that the wine is actually available in White, Rosé, and Red variations… for the purposes of this article we will stick with the more commonly produced and more easily found white variation.  These crisp, bountifully fragrant wines often give off a slight effervescence – a slight sparkling quality – that make them delicious and fun to drink.  These blended beauties are meant to be enjoyed within a year or so of their release.  No need to search for older vintages here.  2011/2012 wines are in prime condition for drinking this summer.  The 2011 Vera Vinho Verde I am currently sipping on is delightful and cost me a bank-breaking $14.

The Summer of Iberian Whites is here.  Drink It and Like It!

Written by Scott Waldrup

Eat It and Like It launched in Savannah, Georgia with television personality Jesse Blanco as the host. His passion for food and travel has made Eat It and Like It a two-time EMMY nominated program about contemporary and traditional Southern food.