Summer usually means spending more time outside, which often leads to preparing much of our food on the grill.
With the abundance of fresh ingredients available, chilled white wines are perfect summertime pairings.
We love loading our grills with salmon, halibut and tuna, as well as scallops, prawns and oysters. All of these pair with crisp white wines such as Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling.
For a simple-to-make sauce to top grilled salmon, combine a half-cup of plain yogurt with two teaspoons of lemon juice and quarter-teaspoon of fresh dill. As you grill the salmon, baste it with a bit of olive oil and top with some more lemon juice and fresh dill.
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Grilled chicken or pork chops go nicely with Chardonnays that aren't too heavily oaked (which thankfully is the trend these days), as well as Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Pinot Gris.
Or try grilling a pizza with a pesto sauce topped with red onions, mushrooms, sliced bell peppers, olives and zucchinis. Break out just about any white wine with this summer treat.
Stick your wine in the fridge at least a couple of hours before dinner, then pull out the bottle when you start grilling. It should be at the perfect serving temperature by the time the food hits the plate.
Here are some delicious and reasonably priced white wines we've tasted in recent weeks that will go beautifully with your summer grilling adventures.
Convergence Zone Cellars 2011 Upland Vineyard Sunbreak Chenin Blanc, Snipes Mountain, $17: Fruit from Upland Vineyard in the Yakima Valley creates aromas of dusty citrus fruit, butterscotch and damp wool. The drink is bright, luscious and tropical with lemon/lime flavors, backed by dried apple and mouthwatering acidity to counteract the 3 percent residual sugar.
Raptor Ridge Winery 2011 Pinot Gris, Oregon, $18: The nose for this delicious Oregon wine hints at lemon-lime and Granny Smith apple with a whiff of toasted wheat bread. On the palate, it's loaded with apricot, apple, lemon and gooseberry. Enjoy with a plate of oysters.
Blue Pirate 2010 Pinot Gris, Columbia Valley, $12: This crisp white includes Sauvignon Blanc and Roussanne. There's no sign of oak in the nose, which features hints of fresh pear, Golden Delicious apple, lemon, pineapple and minerality. The palate offers enjoyable leanness and notes of Granny Smith apple and Asian pear, with undertones of peach and yellow grapefruit with a finish of lemon peel and slate.
Jones of Washington 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley, $15: Here's a superb white that releases wide-ranging aromas of jasmine, lychee, lime, gooseberry, Wrigley's Spearmint Gum, celery and slate. Despite being fermented in new Hungarian oak, it's loaded with fruity flavors of lemon, lime and kiwi.
Indian Creek Winery 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Snake River Valley, $12: The nose is filled with pleasing lemon/lime aromas, backed by tropical notes of lychee and grapefruit. That grapefruit sets you up for the flavors, which include delicious fresh lime juice and a bit of slate. It's nicely balanced and a bright expression of the variety that includes some citrus pith bitterness ideal for summertime fare such as ceviche.
Waterbrook Winery 2010 Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $12: Aromatics lead with dusty pear, melon, tangerine, banana and honeycomb, but there's some oakiness, minerality and lime peel in the background to offer remarkable complexity. It comes across as a lighter-style Chardonnay, blending creaminess and minerality on the palate with tasty notes of tropical fruit, more Bosc pear and hints of beeswax.
Hyatt Vineyards 2011 Estate Riesling, Rattlesnake Hills, $12: Winemaker Steve Hovanes decided to make this in an off-dry style at 4 percent residual sugar. Aromas of apricot, lemon and slate funnel into easy-drinking flavors of McIntosh apple and Thompson seedless grape with a lemon/lime finish.
*Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman run Great Northwest Wine, a website that provides news and information about the wines of Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Idaho.