**This article first appeared in The Indian Scene Magazine April 2020**
Spring is in the air and we are making a transition from full-bodied red wines to more crisp and fresh white wines. Chardonnay is the most beloved white grape variety of wine lovers around the globe, but often, we just want a change. When we walk into a wine shop or we glance over a wine list, our second wine of choice might be Sauvignon Blanc. It is light and refreshing and great for a spring day, but if you are looking for something besides the same old, same old, then look to these three white grape varieties to liven up your spring season.
If you generally stick to the wines you like or the wines you know, then Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are the safe bet. If you are adventurous and looking to explore and expand your palate, then give these three white wines a go.
Vermentino is a fabulous choice when looking for a light-bodied white wine. It is underrated and often underappreciated, which makes the wine a great value from a price perspective. If you love Sauvignon Blanc you will love Vermentino, as it is similar in style and taste.
Vermentino grows mainly in Sardinia and has bold zippy aromas of pear, grapefruit, and citrus. On the palate it is dry with lively acidity, oily texture, and a stony minerality. With flavors of granny smith apples, pears and lime, it is a perfect pairing for oysters, fish tacos, hummus, and cauliflower steaks.
The best Chenin Blanc comes from the Loire Valley where it has been cultivated for centuries. The grape variety has also found a second home in South Africa. It is a classic white grape that is often overlooked but is a darling amongst sommeliers. Chenin Blanc can be vinified in a range of styles from austere, mineral, and refreshing to rich, honeyed, sweet, and sparkling. Chenin Blanc, simply put, is sublime. A wine that is age-worthy and a favorite amongst collectors.
Chenin Blanc can be oak-aged, so if you are Chardonnay fan, you will love Chenin Blanc. Most classic Chenin Blancs have aromatic hints of honey, jasmine, pear, passion fruit, marzipan, brioche, and melons. Some lusciously sweet Chenins have honeyed and caramel notes. Due to Chenins’ intense acidity it makes for a perfect pairing with spicy Indian dishes and Thai cuisine.
Albariño is Spain’s quintessential white grape variety from Rias Baixas on the Galician coastline. Albariño is a delight with its refreshing crisp style with rich stone fruits, lip-smacking acidity, hints of salinity and minerality. Albarino pairs perfectly with all things seafood. Its freshness and elegance make it the perfect pairing for oysters, seared tuna burger, seafood risotto, sashimi, seafood tapas, and ceviche.
This coastal wine is meant to be drunk young, and hints of lime, grapefruit, and honey. Its lip-smacking acidity makes it a versatile wine to be drunk on its own as an aperitif, with tapas or light fish dish. Its creaminess often makes it a great alternative for Chardonnay lovers.