Sooner or later summer will arrive and white wines will appear on patios throughout the province. You can grab any white from the shelf or you can experiment with some fabulous underrated picks that are sure to bring you a season of pleasure.
My ideal summer white is clean, crisp, refreshing and full of citrus and orchard fruit flavours - but lower in alcohol, as on a hot sunny day your thirst levels may lead you to drink more than a glass or two.
A little bit of fizz always helps, so my first pick hails from Portugal, the land of Port, where Vinho Verde is a white that includes all the criteria above. There are at least three or four different brands offered in B.C., all which are recommended and best of all are priced under $12 a bottle.
Summer style B.C. wines from the 2011 vintage have started to arrive in wine shops. All under $18, the selections that stand out are Tinhorn Pinot Gris, Domaine de Chaberton Bacchus and Thornhaven Gewürtztraminer. These wines may be a few dollars more, but the flavours are superior to the mass-produced whites that sell for under $15.
A trendy wine that has seen resurgence due to endorsements from rap artists and Hollywood stars is Moscato. This wine can be a bit sweet for some palates, but served chilled displays some lush tropical fruit and a smooth taste and finish.
Try out popular brands such as Yellow Tail, Woodbridge by Mondavi and Barefoot Vineyards, all priced below $15.
Rieslings have always been a classic choice for the summer heat. Citrus, orchard fruit and minerality offset by a balanced sweet-to-acid combination make for an ideal thirst-quenching beverage. Look for Hardy's Riesling/ Gewürztraminer, Bree Riesling and Dr. L Riesling for a selection under $20. If you are up for a treat, B.C. produces some outstanding choices with 8th Generation and Intrigue wineries leading the way. Intrigue's winemaker Roger Wong is known throughout the valley as a master at crafting outstanding Riesling.
Don't forget sparkling wines this summer; in the last decade the quality of sparkling wines has improved and the prices have come down.
Prosecco and Cava from Spain lead the way with consistent quality, regardless of the producer or brand. One of the reasons for Prosecco's quality is the strict regulations that Prosecco producers must adhere to by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture. A large majority of these wines are well under $20 and are more widely available than ever before.
Eastern European, Australian and Spanish producers present some interesting choices under $15. Look to the sweetness levels to find one that suits your taste.
Armed with all this information, your summer get-together will never be boring and you will find yourself enjoying wines you may have never drank before. Who knows - drinking these summer whites might stretch the summer out a few weeks longer.
. John Gerum is a wine instructor, writer and consultant with West Coast Wine Education. For information on wine tastings, workshops, classes and clubs, visit www. wcwed.com.