As most of you know, I spent the better part of three years working as a ghostwriter for a well-known wine critic. I have about 30 years of tasting and writing to go before anyone would consider me “good” at what I do, but I’ve picked up a few tidbits along the way to sound impressive at parties and to judge people at neighboring bistro tables when they order at fancy restaurants.
When summer rolls around, I get asked quite frequently about “summer wine.” Not sure why– ain’t no such thing. Like, if you’re making ribs, please pick up a spicy Zinfandel or a Syrah because: grilled meats. But if you are looking for a summer wine, I have a suggestion: skip over those Cali Chards and even run past the now-overpriced Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs. Head straight for Eastern Europe, do not pass go, and PLEASE pick up a bottle of Gruner Veltliner.
More known for heavy, butter-laden foods and menus with a dearth of vowels than springy, tangy white wines, I promise you that the Austrians, Slovakians and Czechs know their shit when it comes to making summer-appropriate white wine. Gruner Veltliner (GROO ner velt LEEN er) is going to be your best friend this summer. Here’s why:
- White Wine = Summer. Duh.
While absolutely all wines can be quaffed during the summer months, people still think hot weather = white wine. Whatever. Fine. Chill these suckers down in a bucket of ice and they’ll be sipped faster than even the fruitiest of Tempranillos.
- Screw Tops.
It’s Italian/French/American b.s. that makes us think that screw top = bad wine. The only reason why price tags are low on screw top wines is because natural cork is UNBEARABLY expensive. Save money on a screw top, make your wine cheaper. Bazinga. Also– no more spilled wine in that aforementioned bucket of ice at the BBQ because these guys are actually re-sealable. Win/Win.
Some Gruners, like all wines, are fetching $40 a bottle at restaurants here in LA. I dunno about you, but I don’t buy $40 bottles of wine on the regular when I go out to eat; I’ll order a beer or a cocktial instead for $5-10. But head to your local wine shop (I beeline for Trader Joe’s here in California) and you can find perfectly respectable bottles of Gruner for $4. Yes. FOUR DOLLARS. Expect to go up to $12 sometimes, but again: so much less expensive than your average Chardonnay.
- Speaking of being the antithesis of Chardonnay…
I love Baby Boomers (hi, Mom & Dad!) as much as the next girl, but really, kids: what were you thinking when you made Chardonnay the go-to white grape? And why the crap did you age it in oak instead of stainless steel? Personally, if I want to drink a glass of butter, I guess I’d drink a glass of butter. But I want wine… which is grape juice. And grape juice is tangy, fruity and is decidedly *not* butter.So, Gen Y has this thing where we like flinty, dry, fruity flavorful whites. And Gruner fits that bill. Buy the young stuff and drink it that day. Preferably with seafood, vegetarian salads, or grilled chicken.
And did I mention it can be cheap?