July 7th, 2014
07:00 AM ET
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Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.

What goes best with...? That’s the baseline wine-pairing question, and every wine expert worth his or her Riedel decanter has an answer for it. But realistically—and especially during the summer—there are plenty of times when a glass of wine will find its way to your hand with no food anywhere nearby. Cocktail parties, pre-dinner lounging around, beach house afternoons hanging out with friends, you name it. For these occasions what you want is the ideal aperitif wine: something light and crisp, not too high in alcohol and endlessly refreshing.
At the recent Food & Wine Classic in Aspen , which I was lucky enough to attend, I spent my time in the Grand Tasting tent hunting up some ideal, affordable, white wine candidates for this category. Here were my top picks:

2013 Beyond Sauvignon Blanc ($11)
Made by the nearly unpronounceable Buitenverwachting winery, this impressive, inexpensive South African Sauvignon has lively citrus fruit and great, tingly acidity.
2013 Ken Forrester Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc ($12)
Top South African winemaker Ken Forrester ages this bright, lightly honeyed white for several months on the lees (the spent yeasts from fermentation) to enhance its savory complexity.
2013 Broadbent Grüner Veltliner ($13/1 liter)
Made for wine importer Bartholomew Broadbent by noted Austrian winemaker Markus Huber, this green apple– and spice-accented white comes in an affordable one liter bottle.
2013 Domaine Paul Buisse Touraine Sauvignon ($15)
Though less in-your-face zingy than the Beyond wine above, this French Sauvignon Blanc is equally refreshing. Plus, its low-alcohol level (11.5 percent) makes it a great hot weather wine; chill it down and serve it all night long.
2012 Bodegas Castro Martin Albariño Sobre Lias ($18)
One of the best out of an ice bucket–full of Albariños I tasted, this layered, lemon-grapefruity white from Spain was impossible not to like. It’d be a great cocktail party pour. 

More from Food & Wine:
Modern Summer Cocktails
Best Wine Cocktails
Sparkling Wine Cocktails
Best Cocktail Bars in the U.S.
Best New Bars in the U.S.

Get to know: Provençal rosé, Prosecco, Chianti, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir, Burgundy, Vinho Verde, Pinot Bianco, Malbec, Torrontes, ice wine, Albarino, Muscadet, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Dolcetto

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soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Floyd Schrodinger

    If you're going to sip something all day long as your article headline implies, it better be water, especially in the summer. Dinking alcohol is fine but drinking it all day long is a sicknesss.

    July 8, 2014 at 8:03 am |
    • Leonard H

      Hey! How's your cat?

      July 8, 2014 at 8:20 am |
    • randoid1234

      What time are the services at your ministry, Pastor Paraderainer?

      July 8, 2014 at 12:43 pm |
  2. Jack

    It's always 5-O'Clock somewhere.

    July 7, 2014 at 7:05 pm |
    • JellyBean

      Yep, it's always Beer:30 in my neck of the woods.

      July 8, 2014 at 8:20 am |
  3. Marc

    I have talked with people who do not drink wine or beer and they are usually on some medication and have a medical problem. Is that true with you or do you enjoy the wonders of drinking wine in moderation. Red wine especially...but whites are definitely fine. Summer ….white wine … sitting around beautiful scenery… stopping to enjoy life... moderation the key ....slowly.... delightfully ... enjoyably..

    July 7, 2014 at 6:57 pm |
  4. David Hoffman

    " But realistically—and especially during the summer—there are plenty of times when a glass of wine will find its way to your hand with no food anywhere nearby. Cocktail parties, pre-dinner lounging around, beach house afternoons hanging out with friends, you name it."

    NO, it will not. Wine is not water.

    The world has spent decades trying to get people to serve decent food with wine to reduce the probability of inebriation, and you go write some illogical staement such as that. Mindless drinking of wine by people is no better than mindless drinking of beer or mixed alcoholic beverages. Always serve food and encourage the alternating of an alcoholic beverage with a non-alcoholic one.

    July 7, 2014 at 5:16 pm |
    • Carn E. Vore

      You must be a hoot to be around. Why don't you have a couple of drinks on an empty stomach. Then while buzzed, reach around with both hands and yank that stick out of your bung.

      July 7, 2014 at 5:32 pm |
      • Jack

        But first, stay tuned for Carn E. Vore's follow-up article: "Best Vodkas to chug while driving and beating up your spouse".

        July 7, 2014 at 7:07 pm |
        • Too bad

          "This Just In" shut down their comments section. Now we have to put up with their displaced trolls.

          By the way, good read Ray.

          July 8, 2014 at 5:01 am |
        • Carn E. Vore

          C'mon, Jack, you don't drink and drive. As Carlin advised, you get up early, get all your drinking done, then you have the rest of the day to safely drive around.

          July 8, 2014 at 8:59 am |
        • JellyBean@Carn E. Vore

          LOL! Well done.

          July 8, 2014 at 10:07 am |
      • David Hoffman

        I do fine with my cooking skills. I am not great at dessert baking, but I can grill, broil, poach, steam, boil, fry, and bake almost everything else. I do fine with creating meals to please almost all ages and dining requests. I always pair food with the alcohol beverages to be served. I even use some of the alcoholic beverages in my cooking. What I dislike are those guests who create problems by consuming numerous alcoholic beverages too quickly without partaking of the many food choices I make available. Dealing with inebriated guests is a lousy way to have to spend what little entertaining time I have. For a culinary writer to encourge that kind of behavior, even in the slightest degree, is disappointing to me. I have seen better articles which keep the food suggestions simple. Some toasted nuts, spiced cut vegetables, cut fruit, crackers, an hearty bread pieces all can go with any of the wine selections mentioned.

        July 7, 2014 at 7:44 pm |
  5. Yo you

    Cool, any other articles about drugs that kill 80,000 people per year in the United States? Oh wait, aside from tobacco, there aren't any! Maybe CNN should do the responsible thing and write us an article about heroine, cocaine, or something really safe like LSD?

    July 7, 2014 at 4:51 pm |
    • Carn E. Vore

      LSD is some good stuff. But I prefer to keep it natural with 'shrooms.

      July 7, 2014 at 5:33 pm |
  6. onlymho

    how could you not include rieslings? particularly the dryer varieties

    July 7, 2014 at 2:34 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      Last week was aaallllll riesling: http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2014/06/20/best-riesling/

      July 7, 2014 at 3:09 pm |
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