WineKnow “Summer Whites”

We recently hosted our third WineKnow tasting event on “Summer Whites.” It was our biggest turnout yet, with over 40 people crammed into our little house. The wines that made the biggest impact were Assyrtiko, Riesling, Furmint and Chenin Blanc.

Here’s the intro to my WineKnow tasting notes, with the full document attached:

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What exactly are “Summer Whites?” In my opinion, they are wines that are lighter-bodied, dry and with high acidity. In one word, refreshing.

When you’re hot and sweaty after a day at the beach, do you hanker for cold apple juice? No, because apple juice is generally sweet and a bit viscous. But lemonade? Grapefruit juice? Oh yeah!

It’s the same with wine. Sauvignon Blanc is the classic Summer White: highly acidic, lemon/lime or tropical fruits, sometimes a bit tart, maybe some savory grassiness. It’s basically adult lemonade. But we’ve all had a LOT of Sauvignon Blanc, so it’s time to expand our horizons.

Tonight we will be tasting nine different white wines from seven different countries. No Chardonnay. No Sauvignon Blanc. No Pinot Grigio. Nothing from the USA.

I’m guessing that you will have not tried half of these wines before. I’VE never tried two of these wines before!!

Remember: as ripeness/sugar levels rise, acidity falls. That’s why most of these Summer Whites are from cooler climates where it’s easier to maintain zippy acidity.

As you are tasting these wines, I want you to think about them relative to SB (acid), PG (neutral) and CD (round).

In particular, focus on:

  • Color: ranging from clear/transparent to golden yellow 
  • Acidity: that refreshing tingle on the tongue
  • Fruit: from Lime → Apple → Pear → Peach → Pineapple
  • Impact of oak ageing (butter, vanilla, oakiness), if any
  • Floral aromas, if any
  • Body (or viscosity) – a sign of higher alcohol, or fermentation on lees (dead yeast cells) etc.
  • ‘Minerality’: does it smell or taste like flint, pencil lead, chalk or salt?

Many of these wines will taste a bit or a lot like wines you’ve tried. Most of them will have something a bit different that makes them stand out. Try to isolate that component! Do you like it?

I hope that the next time you go to a party, you’ll bring the host a bottle of Assyrtiko! You and the bottle will make quite an impression!