According to the sun's position, the summer season officially began Wednesday, when the summer solstice sun reached the farthest distance north of the equator, providing the longest daylight hours of the year. This can only mean one thing -- time to chill out with the right summer wine.
But with which wine to tame the high temperatures is a constant source of heat in our household. She likes white wines that are crisp and dry, he prefers wines that are off-dry and refreshing. Since both styles definitely have a place in the wine bucket and on the palate, we will each share our favorite picks so you can decide which wine style will help you keep your cool this summer.
Retail prices are approximate.
She said -- crisp and dry
I can't think of any better way to beat the heat than a glass of well-chilled dry white wine. Here are a few that I reach for when the heat is on.
Torrontes is one of my favorite summertime heat busters. Traditionally grown in Argentina, it is usually produced in stainless steel tanks to preserve the fresh fruit flavors. The 2011 Andeluna Torrontes ($10) from the Mendoza region of Argentina is produced in collaboration with world-renowned winemaking consultant Michel Rolland. It has lovely aromas of acacia flowers, jasmine, peach and grapefruit. Abundant acidity keeps the bright flavors of tropical fruits, nectarine and citrus fresh and the finish crisp. QPR 8
I also like the 2010 Neal Family Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley, Calif. ($18) Produced exclusively from organically farmed grapes, this wine is a beautiful example of a warmer-climate style. The fragrant bouquet of papaya and kiwi paves the way for the lovely tropical fruit and pineapple flavors that glide across the tongue. Pitch-perfect acidity refreshes the palate with each sip. QPR 9.5
During the summer months, I prefer to drink my chardonnays naked -- the wine, that is. It is a winemaking term that indicates the wine was produced without the use of oak in either the fermentation or aging process. The 2011 Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay from Marlborough, New Zealand ($20) lets all the bright fruit flavors of green apple, white nectarine and grapefruit shine through on the midweight body. The wonderfully crisp acidity keeps the wine balanced and crisp. QPR 8.5
He said -- off-dry
I want my off-dry wines to be refreshing but not cloyingly sweet. The secret is balance. When there is balance among the fruit, the residual sugar and abundant acidity, few wines shine as brightly on the tongue as these wines do when it comes to beating the steamy temperature of summer or the heat of spicy fare.
Semisweet sparkling wines are one of the best kept secrets when it comes to taming summer's heat. I'm sure the 2010 Fratelli Moscato d'Asti Moscato d'Asti, Italy DOCG ($17) won't be a secret for long. Fragrant aromas of acacia and white peaches explode on the nose and in the mouth, where notes of apricot nectar and nectarine join the fun. The pop of acidity and the bright bubbles keep the palate refreshed. QPR 8
I am usually not one for gimmicky wines, so I approached the 2011 Kung Fu Girl Riesling ($14) from the Columbia Valley in Washington state with a healthy degree of skepticism. I was knocked out by the juicy apple core and bright citrus flavors. The balancing act between sweetness and acidity is perfect, giving the finish a delicious highlight of lemon zest and ripe nectarine. QPR 8.5
Pinot blanc is made for summer. The 2009 Valley of the Moon Pinot Blanc ($14) from Sonoma County, Calif., is a study in balance. Ripe flavors of tropical fruit, pear and creamy lemon are round and full in the mouth. Candied pineapple and perfect acidity combine for a refreshingly not-too-sweet and lengthy finish. QPR 9
Note: QPR is a rating system that compares the quality a wine delivers relative to the price. A QPR of 10 is considered an excellent value.