Sips of Summer: White Wines in OKC
Photos by Carli Wentworth
Union Wine Company is ready to test the edges of your tolerance when it comes to wine traditions with the release of their Underwood Pinot Gris.
The Underwood wines are now in Oklahoma, and they are packaged in cans: silver, Bud Light-esque cans. Union is certainly not the first wine company to try this, but they are the first in the state to offer red, white and rose in aluminum cans.
The Pinot Gris was the first to arrive, and it got here in time for patio weather. Spring and summer are challenging times for wine drinkers, especially the “red only” wine lovers. Adam Rott, a certified sommelier at Broadway Wine Merchants, suggests trying white wines in summer for a couple of reasons.
“White suffers from a misconception that it is light, with no complexity, and that it lacks the seriousness you find in reds,” Rott said. “There are many white wines that have the kind of complexity red wine lovers enjoy, and the white wines won't overpower meals.”
Also, they are delicious in their own right. The goal is to enjoy something for what it is, not scorn it for what it is not. White wines do have far more variety and complexity than is widely believed, and this might be largely due to our tendency to reduce large categories to manageable items. The best-selling whites in Oklahoma are Chardonnay, Pinot Gris/Grigio, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. We have reduced white wines to the big four plus all the stuff we don't know about.
Fortunately, the Underwood comes in a recognizable grape variety, and quite frankly, it is a very pleasant introduction to wines in cans. Packard’s New American Kitchen added the cans to their rooftop patio wine list immediately, and some of their reasons work for your pool or patio, too: they aren’t expensive, and you can’t break a can. Each can is, however, two full glasses of wine, so you are having two drinks, not one.
Oklahoma is now home to a dizzying selection of white wines, many of which are perfect for summer cuisine and summer activities. Since we are on the subject of abandoning some wine traditions, this might be a good year to take some risks in wine choice, beginning with Müller-Thurgau.
In addition to wine in cans, Packard’s also chose to add Anne Amie Cuvee A Müller-Thurgau to their wine list. The Oregon winery took a German grape and made a light, crisp, fruit-forward white that works by itself or with food. Nick Schaeffer, the general manager at Packard’s, said, “We added it because we like it. Once people try it, they generally like it too. We added it to a couple flights to make it easier to try for the first time.”
Raptor Ridge is likely best known for their Pinot Noir, but the Oregon winery has also taken a chance on an odd varietal – odd by Oklahoma standards. Grüner-Veltliner is an Austrian grape that is often used in difficult food pairings like Brussels sprouts or asparagus. The Raptor Ridge version is acidic with bright citrus. It’s not necessarily light, but it is approachable, and La Baguette has it on the list.
For the absolute traditionalist, the Andronicus Sauvignon Blanc from Titus Vineyards is an excellent, under-$20 Napa white. Eric Titus talked about his 2013 Sauv Blanc when he was in the city in March. “I think Sauvignon Blanc benefits from time in the bottle,” he said. “It gives it a few months for the acid and alcohol to calm down and the fruit to come forward.” He could not have described the Andronicus any better. If you want to try a Sauv Blanc that isn't all grapefruit all the time, this is a great place to start.