I think some wines taste better outdoors. Pinot grigio is one. Made well, it’s crisp and light and lively and tart, just right for hot-weather sipping.
It’s a picnic wine. A pop-in-the-cooler wine, although you should take it off the ice for 20 minutes or so before drinking to let it warm up to where you can actually taste it.
Pinot grigio is an around-the-pool wine. A back deck barbecue wine (it won’t go with the saucy ribs, but it’ll go nicely with the grilled chicken breast, eggplant and zucchini. It’s a sushi-in-the-park-for-lunch wine. A crab cake wine.
It’s is a boating wine (I always encourage people to make friends with folks who have big wine cellars and bigger boats).
It would be a great baseball wine, but I don’t think they sell it in many stadiums, and would frown on you bringing your own. You might be able to take it to a polo match.
Pinot grigio is a wine that doesn’t need fussing over, somber number scores or florid descriptions (except mine, of course).
It should be drunk within a couple of years of when it’s made.
And it’s an affordable wine, almost never over $15.
Just sip it.
As background, the pinot grigio grape is a mutation of the red pinot noir grape brought from France to northern Italy by Napoleon’s thirsty invaders, and later to California by equally thirsty (and invasive) American tourists.
It’s made quickly, fermented cold in stainless steel tanks, avoiding oak barrels to preserve its crisp acids and intense fruit flavors.
It’s a wine for toasting summer. Here’s to you, summer.
I used to say a major virtue of pinot grigio was that, even if made poorly, it was never less than neutral.
Recently, a few overcropped, made-on-the-cheap, planted-in-the-wrong-places versions lately have proved me wrong.
So keep notes if you find a mediocre one, so you can avoid it in the future.
And here’s a list of some I like very much:
• 2012 Robert Mondavi “Private Selection” Pinot Grigio, Central Coast: white flower aromas, crisp and dry, with intense lemon-lime flavors and a tart finish; $11.
• 2012 Da Vinci Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie IGT: aromas of camellias, crisp and lively, with intense flavors of mangos, golden apples and minerals; $15.
• 2010 Echelon Pinot Grigio, Calif.: crisp and dry, with aromas and flavors of green apples and minerals, tart finish; $13.
• 2011 Esperto Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie IGT: floral aromas, tart and crisp, with flavors of lemons, limes and minerals; $10.
• 2012 Geyser Peak Pinot Grigio, Calif.; floral aromas, crisp and lively, with ripe peach and pear flavors; $12.
• 2010 Luna Nuda Pinot Grigio, Vigneti Delle Dolomiti IGT: aromas and flavors of green pears and green apples, tart, lime-flavored finish; $15.
• 2011 OGIO Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie IGT: white flower aromas, rich, intense flavors of lemons, limes, kiwi, tart finish; $13.