Before we get started, let me preface this article with the known fact among wine drinkers that you often tire of a favorite wine and search until you find a new favorite. A favorite wine can last a week; a month; a year; and, yes, in some categories, even a lifetime. As I thought long and hard, there were many wines that were favorites, but today’s picks are just that-today’s favorites. If I write this column a year from now, we very well could have a whole new list.
I’m asked every day to recommend wines to customers for one occasion or another. Sometimes the question is more personal, "Leo, what’s your favorite (fill in the blank)?" Since it’s summer, here’s the list of my favorites.
- White Wine for a Hot Day. The varietal I always look for is Chenin Blanc. I find it to be a lighter wine with a hint of sweetness. The apple and pear fruit seem less obtrusive than the citrus fruits of other whites. If I have to pick one, this summer it always seems to be Dry Creek Chenin Blanc.
- White Wine with Food. Sauvignon Blanc is such a wonderful wine to pair with food. Fish, chicken, and vegetables all seem to be enhanced by Sauvignon Blanc’s dryness, citrus fruits, and medium body. I find its lack of oak to be extremely food friendly, and my personal choice is Kenwood from Sonoma.
- Champagne. In a category where people expect to pay $50 to $150 for a great bottle of wine, I’ve always found myself asking, "Why?" For less than $40, the Laurent Perrier Brut LP is a dry French Champagne that’s yeasty and an outstanding value. For that price, you can celebrate a little more often.
- Favorite Dessert Wine. My first inclination is to blurt out, "any late harvest Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc blend." After a little thought-and the realization that I have no price limit-Far Niente Dolce begins to make my mouth water. It has both the sweetness and nut flavors to complement any crème brule, pecan pie, or pastry, but most find it to be dessert in itself.
- My Favorite White Wine. I guess this is the glass I would pour if I were going to drink one white all night. Recently, I found a new favorite, Black Jack Chardonnay. It’s a new style of Chardonnay that’s getting away from oak. I found it to be more buttery than fruity, as I’ve grown tired of wines that taste like a glass of juice. You’ll find it easy to drink with or without food.
That finishes my list of favorite whites. As the temperature cools in the fall, you can be sure to find "My Favorites Part II: The Reds." AA!