The worst time of year for the red-only wine drinkers is summer, when a glass of Napa Cabernet seems to have the weight and viscosity of motor oil. Given the likelihood that many of us will be spending more time at home this summer, why not take the chance to experiment with different white wines and broaden your palate? We picked whites in several categories, including some popular go-to varietals, but added several you may never have tried to make this a summer of discovery. In most cases, the wines are under $20 a bottle and widely available.
The first three fall into the popular varietal category: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. After that, the list gets much more adventurous.
Eric Chevalier Chardonnay
French Chardonnay from the Loire Valley is not oaky and buttery; it’s lean, crisp and driven by orchard-fruit flavors.
Prisma Sauvignon Blanc
This Chilean Sauvignon Blanc will be a pleasant surprise to people who think they don’t like the varietal. Weightier than Marlborough or California, it’s still light, pleasant and approachable.
Lagaria Pinot Grigio
One of the (often legitimate) knocks on Pinot Grigio is that it doesn’t taste like anything. Lagaria, like many Italian offerings of this style, is also lean and crisp, but it has beautiful fruit, too.
Poet’s Leap Riesling
Famous German winemaker meets Columbia Valley fruit – that’s the best way to describe this off-dry (not quite sweet) Riesling from Washington. It’s a food wine, for sure.
Martin Codax Albariño
The varietal can be soapy when not done right, but this is a delicious, fruity, refreshing, affordable introduction to this popular Spanish grape.
Luigi Baudana Dragon
This beautiful Italian field blend deserves its own story. One of the most distinctive wines available in the state, and we promise it’s like nothing you’ve ever tried.
Lubanzi Chenin Blanc
By some expert estimates, 20 percent of South Africa’s vines are Chenin Blanc. Unlike the French style, the South African tends toward riper, heavier versions, and the Lubanzi is a great entry point, with its citrus and herbal notes.
Azul y Garanza Viura
The grape is a staple in Spain’s Rioja region, and this liter bottle is a steal. Expect a fruit-forward, light, dry white with tons of pear and citrus.
Folk Machine Dry Muscat
This is for anyone who likes dry, fruity and complex. It’s not sweet, but it is fun, and it’s summer in a bottle – suitable for food pairing or poolside crushing.
Les Rocailles Apremont Savoie
No list is complete without a wine that is 100 percent Jacquere. Yeah, we’d never heard of the varietal either before trying it, but it’s bone dry, clean, refreshing and intense, with good fruit and floral notes.