Though red wines and Champagnes tend to command the truly jaw-dropping prices, there are a hell of a lot of expensive whites out there. This can make it confusing to select one. You might feel tempted to think less pricey equals less good. Which can be true, but by no means always.
Rocca De Montemassi Calasole Vermentino (Tuscany, Italy) $15
Subtle and nuanced Tuscan white. Floral nose, almond base, and a bunch of fruit and spice layers in between: yellow plum, apple, a bit of citrus. Good acidity. A sort of “dusty” minerality that I find is common to Tuscan wines. The occasion for this one? Pasta. Fish. Thursday. You’re thirsty. Whatever.
Castello di Albola Poggio Alle Fate (Tuscany, Italy) $12
This is a 100% Chardonnay from the land of Chianti. Pale straw color with green tinges. Lean (though not as bony as a white Burgundy) and very dry, with pleasant acidity and a pretty long finish that’s long on green apples. Grapefruity nose, pineapple, lime and stone on the palate. Italian wines are “food wines” almost across the board, and this one’s no different. Try it with risotto (and in risotto for that matter), calamari, pasta dishes, grilled chicken, summer vegetables. It’s very easy-going.
Feudo Principi di Butera Insolia (Sicily) $16
I like all the wines on this list; some of them I love. This one’s a great prescription for Bored Palate Syndrome. Insolia is a traditional grape from the island of Sicily that’s made as a varietal, used in blends, and is one of the grapes used to make the fortified wine marsala. This iteration is light bodied, a crystalline pale yellow, with the bright, lemony acidity common to Albarinos, but the palate’s totally different, with dominant notes of almonds, oranges, and white flowers as well as faint traces of herbs (I get lemon thyme and maybe a little bit of fennel). The herbaceous notes should make it fun to pair with dishes that echo those notes (herb crusted fish or chicken seem like obvious choices); I’d also pair this with scallops in a heartbeat. The other night I tried it with an incredibly sophisticated meal-mashed potatoes-and it was terrific. I’m saying, as I will say with most of these wines, don’t sweat it. They’re versatile. If they’re not I will mention it. Upshot? Yummy no matter what.