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Friday March 23, 2018


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The Wines of Summer

When the temperatures start rising, it is time to think about the wines of summer. In the winter, a heavy red wine from California or Bordeaux seems the best thing to have because the weather outside is so dreadful. A big red warms up your cold body and gives everything a glow.

New Jersey in the hot days of summer is just the opposite. The weather is deadly because of the heat. You will probably want to stay inside for most of the day just to get away from that dreadful New Jersey humidity that I know too well from my years of living in Princeton. In my memories of summer,everything is dripping with humidity.

So this is the time of year when you should pick up a nicely chilled white winefrom your refrigerator. Already the world will look a little nicer. Most of my choices for affordable white wines come from Australia and New Zealand. Those two countries are still relative newcomers to the world of wine, and their prices are lower than their counterparts from France or California. They are also easy to find.
My very bargain white wine for summer, though, comes from California, and that is the famous or infamous, depending on your prejudice, Charles Shaw. This is the wine made by Fred Franzia, the rebel from California who dominates the world of lower cost wines. His bottles these days go for $2.99, after many years of being an unbelievable $1.99 and got the popular name Two Buck Chuck. It is sold only at a Trader Joe's store, but there is one just outside of Princeton. I have bought wines there. Don't let anyone intimidate you because the wines are inexpensive. They are quite good, despite what the snobs say.
If you want to splurge a little more, but not too much, you should take a look at Oak Leaf, Woodbridge, and Fetzer wines. All of them are from California. All of those wines are great values.

When you look abroad for your summer whites, your first stop should be [yellow tail]. The wine carries a good price and an unusual label. The winery is owned by the Franzia family, which has its roots in Italy. The founder whose roots were in winegrowing, landed in Australia during World War II and liked the climate even better than home.

If you want to splurge on a great white wine, try out the Errázuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay from Chile. It should be about $20. Or try a Beaulieu Reserve from California. It will set you back about $25, but is worth the price.

For a red wine during the summer, I'd recommend something from Spain. The Spaniards have so much hot weather during summer that they need to have red to go with the heat. One of the best products and still a good price is the Campos Reales Tempranillo. Another good Spanish red is René Barbier Mediterranean. You could also try the R. López de Heredia Cubillo Rioja. You really can't go wrong with any Rioja for a good summer red.

George M. Taber is the author of Judgment of Paris-California vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting that Revolutionized Wine and other wine books.


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