I am willing to admit that maybe some of these wines are not new to you. You are, after all, an experienced, adventuresome and knowledgeable wine drinker.

But I am equally willing to note that I’ll bet you don’t “know” all the wines on the list. And they are all worthy of your attention since they do an excellent job of quenching a New Orleans summertime thirst with fine fruit qualities, the ability to take a Big Chill and relatively low alcohol levels. Most go well with our lighter summertime cuisines and they are all easy on the wallet. What more could anyone ask of a hot weather drink? Well, yes, you could ask that but then you have crossed a very dangerous line.



Same grape, with Albariño hailing from far northwest Spain in Galicia. More specifically the Rias Baixas area. Alvarinho originates just south of there in northern Portugal, around Oporto. Both grapes present the same qualities of forward botanicals on both the palate and the nose. Plenty of acidity here, which means it is an excellent wine to pair with our cuisine.

Keep in mind that the name, the “grape of the Rhine,” is a clue to its geographic beginnings and to what you can expect. Plenty of stone-fruit qualities, peaches and apricots, like viognier from the Rhone region of France. Here again, the name gives you the clue: in Germany there is the Rhine River and it becomes the Rhone River when it enters France.  



You are going to kick yourself for not knowing this red grape, and today most don’t, now used to make excellent rosé. It was the most widely planted grape in France in the late 19th century. And then, boom, the bottom fell out. The main reason the demand fell away is that this was one of the key components, along with Rupestris, of the great hope, AxR1 rootstock. Grape botanists created that rootstock to defeat the dreaded disease, phylloxera, caused by a louse sucking the life out of vines at the roots. AxR1 rootstock was sold to the California wine industry by the trainload, and then, it turns out, the stuff was not as advertised. Phylloxera took hold with a vengeance and caused the entire state’s wine industry to completely rip out AxR1 and replant totally. 

But there are still small areas of southern France, mostly in the Languedoc region, where Aramon does very well. Aramon Rosé wine is spicy with strawberry/cherry notes, rustic, and sometimes seems a bit thin. But for a summertime refresher, that just may be the ticket.



It’s not as if wines from Greece are a new idea. But they are finally crossing oceans. Assyrtiko is a bone-dry, citrus-for-days, highly acidic wine, laden with minerality from the volcanic soils of the island of Santorini. Some of the vines are 70 years old or more.

Over the last 25 years, Assyrtiko has migrated to the mainland of Greece where it develops a milder, softer, not quite as edgy character.



Watch out for the name here. It’s Picpoul or Piquepoul from the Rhone region of France, or maybe the label reads Picpoul de Pinet, which is from the Languedoc area in southwest France, near the town of Pinet.  For our purposes here, light warm-weather wines, we are speaking of the white wine, not the red or the rosé.

While France is home, some very good Picquepoul is being done in Sonoma, California and lately from the high plains of West Texas (yes, you read that correctly). Picpoul can be tangy, short, and lacking in finish. Lately, American picpoul, with more lip-smacking characteristics, has been giving the French styles a run for the money.



The white wine from Argentina was originally thought to be from Spain, but probably not. Torrontés likely developed right in South America following the Spanish conquest of that continent in a convoluted mish-mash starting with the Mission grape.

Nevertheless, Torrontés wines are easy to drink. Quaffable, in fact. Soft citrus notes, tropical fruit and some stone fruit character. The wines are not particularly aromatic, usually low in acid, and can be chilled to really cold temperatures since there are not much elegant aspects to lose with the chill. 


Vinho Verde

Portugal’s low-acid, medium fruity, low alcohol, slightly fizzy contribution to your summer enjoyment. Oh, and did I mention these wines are completely inexpensive? With all that, what’s not to like?

Most come in screw-cap closures so no tools required for opening. Stoop-sitting wines without equal. 



France’s northern Rhone region makes white wine from these grapes. Soak it up. Crisp, stone-fruit qualities, lots of acid, with flavors all over the board from pears to peaches, from violets to minerals. If you find a viognier that you don’t care for, try another from another region. There will be differences that change everything.

California, Oregon and Washington State are also doing good work with this grape. Sometimes you will find a Chilean or Argentinean Viognier that should pique your interest. If you like the various flavors and characteristics of Sauvignon Blanc from diverse places, head for a bottle of Viognier and see what different areas of origin do with this grape. 



This would be a good time to put that bottle of Chardonnay down and move into other ranges of aromas and flavors. Not to mention the possibilities of showing off to your friends how cosmopolitan you have become. Go for it.




Read Happy Hour here on MyNewOrleans.com every Wednesday, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed at www.wgso.com. Also check out Last Call, Tim’s photo feature every month in New Orleans Magazine.