Enjoy summer with a picnic! We have suggestions for cheap picnic essentials, including a cooler and utensils and where to find them.
Cheap Pinot Grigio, Chenin Blanc, Gewurztraminer
Pinot Grigio Wine, Chenin Blanc Wine, Gewurztraminer Wine
Chenin Blanc.An ancient grape that's been grown for thousands of years in the Loire Valley of France, chenin blanc now thrives in many "new world" wine-growing regions, particularly California. It's a very versatile grape, one that lends itself to styles across the spectrum -- from dry to sweet to sparkling.
We found two cheap and flavorful examples. The first hails from France, Domaine de Vaufuto Vouvray 2011 (starting at $9.89, Amazon). The Vouvray region is well known for its chenin blanc wine and with flavors of grapefruit and guava this wine doesn't disappoint. California's offering for this category, 2011 Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc (starting at $8.99, Amazon), contains some viognier (see below), which adds a touch of sweetness that a white wines review of the 2008 vintage on Wine Guider says balances the natural acidity of chenin blanc. The resulting wine presents a fruity nose (melon and pear) and fruity flavors (melon, peach, and tangerine), and even a hint of green pepper.
Gewurztraminer.The gewurztraminer grape is a star in Alsace (France) but also grows well in Germany and Austria and in California's cooler wine-growing zones. With its high sugar content, the resulting wines are relatively sweet and heady with perfume-like scents that experts identify as rose, lychee nut, grapefruit, passion fruit, clove, and allspice. gewurztraminer wines are full-bodied -- some experts say a tad oily -- and definitely not shy. Food pairings range from heavy German-style cuisine to curries to dessert.
If sweeter wines appeal, you might try Fetzer Valley Oaks Gewurztraminer (starting at $8.24, Amazon). Reviews of various vintages of this California wine report strong fruit flavors (peach, pineapple) that are a match for Indian cuisine and smoked salmon. Some consumers, however, consider it far too sweet for their taste.
Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio.The character of pinot gris (the French name)/pinot grigio (the Italian name) depends heavily on where the grapes were grown and the vinification technique. The color of the grape varies by region and ranges from deep bluish grey to nearly red to almost white -- the hue of the finished product varies accordingly. The Italian winemaking style, explains Wine Pros, yields pinot grigio that's mildly floral, lean, and tart while the French approach results in a pinot gris that's comparatively rich and fruity. Expert wine tasters consider pinot gris/pinot grigio an "approachable" wine although somewhat boring. Sales of cheaper pinot grigio have been rising in the U.S., and Drink Wine reports it now ranks second in popularity. Pinot gris/pinot grigio is a good match with seafood, light pastas, and cheese, and some do well as stand-alone sippers.
We found several worthy bargain specimens. Little Black Dress (starting at $9.99, Amazon) is a California pinot grigio that's targeted to female consumers. According to a white wines review on Style Gourmet, it earns praise from female tasters for it tree-fruits nose and tropical-fruits flavor; other reviewers like the non-sweet fruitiness. A dry, crisp, and tangy alternative is Domino Pinot Grigio (starting at $5.39, Amazon), another California entry that's noted for a fruity (peach and apple) bouquet and silky body; the 2010 vintage was named a best buy in the white-wines-for-$8-or-less category in the 2011 World Value Wine Challenge. If you want to go Italian, Tieffenbrunner Pinot Grigio delle Venezie (starting at $11.99, Amazon) is bone dry with some green apple taste, says a white wines review of the 2009 vintage on Pop and Pour.
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