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By the Glass

Summer’s heat calls for wines that refresh

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It is summertime. Although the seasonal change is not as climactically different here in the islands as on the mainland, one has to agree the sun is more glaring and the weather noticeably hotter from June through August.

This is the time for ice chests, picnics and outdoor get-togethers.

Because of the warmer weather, I suggest well-chilled white wines, roses and lighter-bodied reds, ideally ones with lower alcohol levels. You will find these considerably more thirst-quenching, cooling and refreshing.

At home, for example, my wife and I always have a good stock of off-dry to slightly sweet German rieslings in our refrigerator. We find these especially wonderful for warm-weather sipping because of their refreshing fruitiness, remarkable lightness and their low alcohol levels.

Along this line, an American counterpart worth checking out is called Pacific Rim Riesling. Not only is this wine tasty, zesty and uplifting, it is also incredibly friendly with an amazing diversity of foods. The best thing, though, is that it’s only about $12 a bottle.

Another fabulous summertime wine is the Fonseca Vinho Verde from Portugal. This "country" white wine is all about food friendliness and gulp-ability, just what one would expect from a Mediterranean cafe-styled wine.

The remarkably refreshing fizziness and low, 9.5-degree alcohol content make it ideal for sipping on especially warm days and at outdoor events. At roughly $11, it won’t drain your bank account, either.

Along the Mediterranean basin, pink wines abound in all of the cafes and bistros during the summer months. Served well-chilled in carafes, this is the popular choice to wash down the bountiful summer seafood and vegetable fare.

The secret is always finding the "good" ones, and such a find recently entered the Hawaii market: Le Poussin, a tasty, off-dry, light pink-ster from southern France. At around $12, it is hard to beat in value.

For the chardonnay lover, consider the Henri Perrusset Macon Villages (about $20). This label might be easier to understand if it said, "Henri Perrusset is my name and this is my chardonnay from the Macon region of France."

This is the very style of chardonnay I grew up on—dry, ethereally perfumed, pure, light-bodied, crisp and thoroughly refreshing. This style is much more apropos for warm-weather drinking and quite a contrast to the oakier, higher-alcohol chardonnays that are popular these days.

Also worth checking out this summer are the "aromatic" grape varieties. As their name suggests, they make wines that feature exotic, more perfumed fragrances.

The one that jumps to the forefront is albarino. Although this is a grape variety grown in Spain, there is a pretty, suave, absolutely delicious version grown in the Monterey highlands by Cambiata winery. For people looking to buy American, this is one well worth searching out.

Chuck Furuya is a master sommelier and a partner in the D.K. Restaurant group.

 

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