Hot fun – Grape Crush

In the summertime, wine lovers look for great “pool-and-porch” wines whose measure reveals elegance, simplicity and an ability to jibe with our favorite hot-weather foods. This month’s wines provide a smooth backdrop for seasonal cuisine, especially cheese plates, grilled lean meats, spicy Asian dishes and Louisiana seafood. Best of all, they’re priced between $10 and $15 each, making them super values given the complexity within.

“That’s the fun,” says Bill Hounshell, manager of the wine-centric Matherne’s Supermarket on Highland Road and longtime organizer of the grocery store’s beloved reservation-only wine dinners. “It’s easy to find a good, expensive wine. The challenge is finding something good at a great price.”

These fit the bill. Prices are subject to change.


Sauvignon Blanc • 2010

Chile • $10

Sauvignon Blanc lovers agree that this grape is food-friendly, versatile and steady and can be really elegant. It’s also an incomparable beat-the-heat ally that shines with food. Here, Chilean winery Gryphus presents a well-rounded Sauvignon Blanc produced from grapes grown at an elevation of more than 2,000 feet. Look for citrus notes and a smooth finish that’s not at all edgy or overly acidic. Try with a lighter fish dish like drum with fruit salsa.


Viognier • 2009

North Coast, California • $9

A nicely nuanced wine, this 100% Viognier presents gentle floral and tropical fruit notes, like mango and pineapple. For me, it begs especially for two culinary partners: a cheese plate or spicy Asian food. It’s super as an aperitif with soft cheeses or Emmenthaler or with a sturdy main course, like pad Thai or spicy noodles with chicken or shrimp.


Mencia • 2009

Monterrei • $15

A winning medium-bodied find from Spain, this varietal is a great barbecue wine. Try with pulled pork glazed with pepper jelly or flank steak fajitas. Look for berry fruit and violet on the mid-palate and soft tannins on the finish. Be certain to let it open up, and its structure and balance won’t disappoint.