Ode to Summer Wine

Summertime for most people means barbecues, swimming pools and sunshine. For me, it means white wine season! I usually enjoy the complexity and richness of red wine, but for a blisteringly hot Los Angeles summer, nothing's better than a cool glass of white wine. My white wine of choice? Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

My love affair with Marlborough SVB's began in 2007 in Florida. I was working at a fantastic theatre down there (Florida Stage - lovely place) and living half a mile from the beach. It was an idyllic three months spent walking through the surf in the morning, performing in the evening, and capping off my days with some homemade ice cream at the parlor next to the theatre. Occasionally, I'd walk over to the Ritz Carlton across the street, sit in the lobby bar and enjoy a glass of wine. On the menu was a Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc, to this day my favorite of all the Marlboroughs. Crisp, clean, dry and tart, sipping on this wine in the beautiful Ritz Carlton felt so luxurious.

There are many wonderful options for Marlborough SVB you can find in your regular grocery store wine aisle. One of the most popular is Nobilo, which earns between 88-92 points (out of 100) from Wine Spectator Magazine. The Nobilo Icon is particularly delicious and easy to find, though I haven't had the latest vintage (being pregnant put a cramp in my drinking style, obviously).

Many wineries are jumping on the Marlborough train, producing sauvignon blanc in a very similar style. The Chilean sauvignon blancs are absolutely delicious and share many of the same characteristics as the Marlboroughs. My favorite is Santa Maria (easy to locate at the grocery store). California wine producers are also making Marlborough-style  wines (we love the sauvignon blanc from Rosenthal, though it is more difficult to find). California sauvignon blancs are also sometimes referred to as fume blanc, which has a more rounded taste to it but still quite good. The first bottle of wine my husband and I shared was a fantastic bottle of Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc. 

Unfortunately, the quality of Marlborough sauvignon blancs has declined slightly in the last couple years, much like what happened with California pinot noirs. When the popularity of a particularly grape is on the rise, it tends to be overproduced, and therefore loses some of the original quality and intention. The taste also varies depending on the environmental conditions in which the grapes were grown. Some years fare better than others. Experiment with different vintages and see what year has characteristics that appeal to you.

White wine should be chilled, and while some people have a separate wine refrigerator to keep their white wine at the recommended 48-52 degrees (slightly warmer than the typical refrigerator temperature) most of us don't have that option. Some critics believe Americans serve their white wine too cold and red wine too warm. I say drink your wine at the temperature that appeals to you! If you want to be "correct", take the bottle of white out of your refrigerator half an hour before you intend to drink it. And please, please do not put ice in your white wine. Watering down the wine will affect the smell and taste. However, if you really love to have ice cubes in your chardonnay, don't let prissy wine snobs stop you! Drinking wine should be a pleasurable, sumptuous experience. Enjoy it your way!

For information on how to safely indulge in the occasional glass of wine while breastfeeding, go to this website: http://www.kellymom.com/health/lifestyle/alcohol.html. Be smart and sensible. I prefer to have just a quarter of a glass with a full meal a few times a week right after nursing, giving the alcohol time to be processed and eliminated from my body before the next feeding. As our pediatrician said "you deserve a little drink at the end of the day"... as long as you're smart about it! And of course, if you feel uncomfortable drinking even small amounts while pregnant or nursing, by all means don't!

Well, there is a bottle of Rosenthal Sauvignon Blanc with my name on it chilling in our fridge. Happy drinking!