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Time for the whites of spring

By John Brown

A note to "Red Wine Nation": White wines are good and getting better!

I feel the need to make this declarative statement because there is a growing sentiment among some wine drinkers (mostly those who are new to the fold) that white wine is an inferior product and, except for the occasional bottle of chardonnay, is not to be considered seriously.

That's why I get upset when someone claims to be a "red wine only" advocate. For instance, these folks are happy to slurp down a bottle of full-bodied, high-alcohol, young California cabernet sauvignon (without food) as a pre-dinner cocktail. They revel in their "trophy" wines and rationalize their overindulgence by proclaiming the healthful effects of drinking red wine (their credo: If a little bit of red wine is good for you, then a lot of it must be even better).

Health issues aside, if you're limiting yourself to just red - or just white - or just cabernet - you're missing out on one of the most important, enjoyable and enlightening aspects of wine appreciation: the exploration and discovery of new wines.

Earlier this month, I conducted a tasting which I called the "The Whites of Spring." With warmer weather making its appearance, I usually opt for wines - either white or red - that are lighter. It just seems to fit this time of year. I selected these particular wines to demonstrate the wide variety of excellent whites available in West Virginia. Here are a few for your consideration:

2006 Beringer Gewürztraminer ($9): This Gewürztraminer's delicate balance of spicy aromas and floral and citrus flavors is enhanced by a long, cool fermentation. Try it as a porch sipper with cheese and fruit or with Thai food.

2006 Martín Códax Albariño ($11): Albariño, from Spain, is terrific white that exudes richness, yet it is crisp with flavors of melon and herbs with an underlying minerality. Kind of like sauvignon blanc without the grassiness. Great with lemon sole.

2007 The Crossings Sauvignon Blanc ($17): This wine from New Zealand fairly bursts on the palate with a refreshing zing! What's a zing? Well, I guess you could say it's beyond fresh and crisp with ripe citrus and melon flavors that excite the palate. Pasta dressed in a pesto composed of basil, extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, parmigiano reggiano and pine nuts would provide the perfect match for The Crossings.

For more on whites and other wines, see the WineBoy blog at thegazz.com.


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