"Vinho verde is the ultimate summer wine. No wait, maybe Spanish albarino."
"No way, it's French rosé."
"I only drink red."
"Then Beaujolais or something light like pinot noir."
"I prefer zinfandel."
If you think this conversation about summer wine took place in my head between my various personalities ... well, no. It is an amalgamation of lots of statements I've heard over the past few weeks.
Let's get this straight: Summer wine is what you like to drink in the summer. If it's 90 degrees and you want a big old Amarone with 16 percent alcohol, knock yourself out. Others might want a lighter, lower-alcohol red when it's hot so they don't feel dehydrated or tired.
These wines in general seem to fall into two categories: light and fresh or full-bodied and fruity, matching well with barbecued meats. There is not one cure-all.
Lately, I've been drinking my fair share of rosé, picpoul and muscadet. I'm also opting for lighter bubblies made in the Loire Valley of France and Spain's Cava region.
Since summer wines may be perceived as less complex based on their body and freshness, many are pretty reasonably priced. Here are a few that have been living in my house:
Evohe Garnacha Blanca, 2011 (Vino de la Tierra del Bajo Aragón): A snappy little gem from the hinterlands of Aragonia, this is a lighter, brighter version of white grenache than you typically find. White flowers and barely ripe bananas in the nose, almonds and custard apple on the palate, with a long and sleek finish, this may very well be the steal of the summer. Suggested retail: $10
Drautzburg-Able Lemberger Trocken, 2010 (Wuerttemberg, Germany): Lemberger, aka blaufrankisch, is one of Germany's semi-indigenous red grapes. Often spicy, Drautzburg-Able has taken it to a new level with this floral, blueberry-laden wine. Suggested retail: $15
Pullus Pinot Grigio, 2012 (Stajerska, Slovenia): Made in the ramato method where it's fermented on its skins for a short period of time, it's copper-colored with dry, juicy fruit and mineral and floral nuances. Suggested retail: $16
Kurt Darting Dürkheimer Hochbenn Riesling Kabinett, 2011 (Pfalz, Germany): Ever so slightly sweet but completely balanced, this is a refreshing treat with apricot and peach fruit, mineral underpinnings and a long, juicy finish. Suggested retail: $17
Turley Cinsault, Bechtoldt Vineyard, 2012 (Lodi, California): This famous winery is changing course. Known for its big, sappy zinfandels, the reins have been pulled in under winemaker Tegan Passalacqua, and before him Ehren Jordan. I think Turley's best wines are to come. Made from a 127-year-old vineyard, this wine is vibrant and tasty without overcrowding your palate, with boysenberry and grapefruit sorbet. Suggested retail: $20
These wines can be found through D&M Liquor, Jump Start Grocery, K&L WIne Merchants, William Cross Wine Merchants, Beltramo's and Swirl on Castro.
Pamela S. Busch is a wine writer and educator who has owned several wine bars in San Francisco, including Hayes and Vine and CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen.