Wine.  It’s good.  But it can be confusing and somewhat overwhelming.  Fortunately, after years of a somewhat borderline drinking problem, I can offer up some information and personal preferences that might help shed some light when you’re faced with a wall full of bottles and you are completely unsure with what to choose.

Since the official start to summer is just a few weeks away, and there will be plenty of opportunities for barbecues, I figured I’d focus on some of my favorite whites, which are great for warmer weather and sunshine.

I will preface all of this with the fact that I am far from an expert.  This is completely based on my own tastes and preferences, and I may contradict actual experts.  And I’m not a brand snob at all.  I’m very frequently swayed by the pretty colors on the labels, just for full disclosure.  And I only know stuff about “new world” wines, meaning those from the Americas and Australia/New Zealand.  I know very little about “old world” (European) wines, so feel free to educate me.  At the very least, you’ll know what kind of wine to bring me next time we hang out.  🙂


This is one of my favorites varietals, particularly in summer.  Most sauvignon blancs feature a very grapefruity quality on the palette.  It is pretty dry, which makes it a great pairing for cheese plates and fruit.  I also love it with fish and seafood.  My favorites come from New Zealand, mainly because I’m a fan of Flight of the Concords.  (Not really, but it is a great show, check it out on DVD, focus on season 1).  A couple of good ones to try:  Dashwood and Oyster Bay.


Pinot grigio is a great, versatile wine.  It isn’t as dry as sauvignon blanc, but not as full bodied as chardonnay (more on that one to come).  It frequently has peach or melon notes to it.  I love this with roast chicken (which is not necessarily a typical pairing).  Truthfully though, if I’m in the mood for white wine, and I’m not sure what I’m eating, I usually choose pinot grigio because I feel like it can go with virtually anything.  A couple of my favorites include:  Arca Maggiore and Santa Margherita.


Rosé isn’t truly a white wine, but it has similar characteristics and is great in summer, so I’m including it here.  Rosé has had a bit of resurgence in the past five years or so.  It used to be only associated with white zinfandel, which is one step away from Boons’ Farm, so many people don’t realize it can be delicious.  Dry rosés are best; they pair really nicely with seafood and cheeses as well.  The darker the rosé, generally speaking, it can pair well with more robust food.  But sometimes I have rosé just because I like having something pink in my glass.  I find that outstanding rosés are easier to find on the east coast than the west, but a couple of ones I like are:  Tapiz Malbec Rosé and Corbiéres Domaine Sainte-Eugénie.


When I’m feeling sparkly (and when am I not?), I go for champagne.  I think champagne is really versatile too, it’s a great aperitif, and it can go well with desserts too, particularly fruit (specifically strawberries).  Champagne can only be called champagne if it’s from France; otherwise it’s sparkling wine.  But that’s too many syllables.  My absolute favorite is Veuve Clicquot, it is very reliable and it has a certain roundness to it that I really like.  But it’s expensive, so my next favorite is Roederer Estates, about half the price as Veuve.


I know there are lots of chardonnay lovers out there.  I am not one of them.  Chardonnays, particularly California chardonnays are far too buttery and vanilla-y for me.  So I avoid it at all costs.  I will truly drink something non-alcoholic (what???) rather than have chardonnay if it’s the only option.  The good news is, that in my social circle that never happens.  J 


I used to drink Riesling a lot when I graduated from college.  I think I enjoyed something sweet, and it was a good starter wine for me as a result.  I don’t drink them any more, but I wanted to mention them because they are a great pairing with spicy food, particularly Thai, because the sweetness balances out the super spiciness of some ethnic foods.  Just something to consider if you are feeling experimental.

There are other, less common varietals, like viognier and torrontés, but I don’t know anything about them other than they are white.  So, I’ll let you try them and let me know more about them.

Next time, I’ll touch on some of my favorite reds, regardless of season.


Whitney Holland is a longtime lover of TV, chocolate, architecture and snark.  Her slightly more recent loves include wine, Central Park in the fall and Sugarbang.com. You can reach Whitney at: whitney@sugarbang.com