Wine in a box is something we wine geeks love to hate. (Remember those boomerang hangovers in college that drove us back to beer?) But there's something to be said for wine by the spigot, and more wineries are vying for our attention and our palates with better juice in a box. So it pays to check them out from time to time. That's what I did for the Sunday Source section in The Washington Post.
And my new outlet is with Washingtonian magazine, the leading monthly in the D.C. region. My debut column on rosé ran in the July issue, now on newstands. I'll post a link to it when it goes online at the end of the month. In the meantime, however, I'll be contributing to Washingtonian.com's "Best Bites" blog every Thursday. I kicked off this new feature with a couple of dynamite summertime "house white" picks:
Santa Julia Torrontès 2006, Mendoza, Argentina, $8. Torrontès is an obscure grape from Argentina that is becoming more prominent on our shelves. Yet no winery hits the value/quality quotient quite like Santa Julia, a winery known for value in all its wines. The Torrontès features exotic fruitiness like a Gewürztraminer without the flowery sweetness. A delightful quaff or appetizer wine with patio nibbles. (Imported by Winesellers Ltd, Chicago.)
Tegernseerhof T26 Grüner Veltliner 2006, Austria, $14. A deceptive wine – light and refreshing as water, but just as you want to shrug it off there comes an echo of mango, lime and spice with the backbeat of a steel drum and the flicker of a bonfire on the beach. (KWSelections, Select Wines, Chantilly, Va.)
Here's a lovely summer red, an ideal foil for grilled burgers, chicken or sausages. Serve at least lightly chilled to accentuate the black cherry fruit and render this wine's acidity even more refreshing on a warm day. At 13% alcohol, it is not too weighty for summer.
A KW Selection, imported by Select Wines, Chantilly, Va.
I’m an alcohol snob. If I see 14.8% on a label for most wines, especially a white, I’ll put it back on the shelf and buy something else. Most wines I’ve tasted in that range are out-of-balance, weighty, over-oaked monstrosities that make me want to cry over the wasted potential of those grapes. Of course, there are a rare few that are carefully made with exceptional fruit where the alcohol is integrated and the final result is a full-bodied, complex wine that stimulates the palate, the imagination, and conversation.