Four Summer Whites to Start Drinking Now

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It’s coming. You can feel it. May in Chicago might sometimes seem more like fall, but summer is just around the corner. That means evenings on the porch, sipping a crisp summer white, waiting for the fish to come off the grill.

Is there anything more summery than a crisp white wine? We’ll get you started on the right path to nirvana with these four varietals, and nary a Chardonnay among ‘em!

Sandeep Ghaey of Evanston’s Vinic Wines has a few suggestions for what to start drinking now. The best news? You don’t have to spend a bundle to enjoy your beverage.

2008 Man Vintners Chenin Blanc
($9.99) is a South African white from the Steen Region. It’s similar to a French Vouvray—clean, fresh and affordable. We found it very drinkable and a great value. Lay this one in by the case.

The 2008 Longboat  Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough ($13.99) hails from the high-elevation vineyards in the south of New Zealand. It has good acidity and a nice grassiness. Ghaey recommends it with asparagus, greens, salads and lighter grilled items. We just enjoyed sitting around swilling it, but I’m sure it’s good with all of those foods as well. How could it not be?

Stay with me on this one: 2008 Skouras Viognier Cuvee Larsinos ($20.99) from— wait for it—Greece. Yes, Greece. This is one of Ghaey’s faves. “Lots of creaminess, great aromatics and tropical fruit,” he says. I loved it, ‘cuz I’m a bit of a Viognier freak. It’s a little more complex than your typical summer white, but it will pair beautifully with grilled chicken or fish and I enjoyed it straight up.

On the pricier side, a 2009 Ken Wright Cellars Pinot Blanc ($28.99) from Oregon’s Willamette Valley impressed with lots of acidity and minerality. It’s refreshing to drink but still stands up to salmon and shellfish. A good wine for company.

Don’t wait for sultry weather; get to a wine store and prepare yourself. Who’s going to complain when you hand them a cool glass of tasty white wine? Let’s get this summer started!