When the weather heats up, you want to dial things back a bit by keeping it light and simple. That applies equally to summer activities, clothing, food and drink. When it comes to wine, nothing is more refreshing than a bottle of vinho verde from Portugal. It's a blend of up to 25 different indigenous grapes, including alvarinho, arinto, troixadura, loureita and pederna. While you may never become familiar with the variety of grapes, you'll want to get to know the wine. With its crisp fruit and touch of fizz, it's a unique delight. Serve it well chilled for a flavorful way to beat the heat. Here are the panel's favorites:
2010 Aveleda Fonte Vinho Verde, $7.99
Beautifully floral aromas pour from the glass--creamy melon, honeysuckle and bright citrus. Loaded with a tingly fizz that really wakes up the palate, this is a well-structured wine. The ripe peach fruit flavors are nicely balanced by crisp acidity. The finish is surprisingly lush and lingers nicely.
Casal Garcia Vinho Verde, $8.99
The aromas are soft but amazingly varied with juicy apple and guava fruit, floral honeysuckle and carnation, all backed by intriguing touches of briny herb and light mint. The flavors are a lively mix of lemon, lime, melon and tart apple, with just a bit of spritz on the tongue. Hints of spring greens and coconut come through on the finish.
2010 J M Fonseca Twin Vines Vinho Verde, $7.99
The Twin Vines offers rich and ripe fruit on the nose with sweet peach and honeydew melon colored by subtle notes of mineral and nutmeg. While it's still eminently refreshing, the Twin Vines is on the subdued side of the vinho verde spectrum, with sweet citrus and green apple flavors that turn smooth and supple on the lengthy finish. A great intro to the variety.