White Wine

Bored of Chardonnay? Add This Lesser-Known White to Your Picnic Basket Instead

August  3, 2016

Summer is half over—and if you’re anything like me, that means you’ve already consumed your yearly quota of Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio and would welcome a new house white to see you through to Labor Day.

Enter Pinot Blanc, an easygoing but oft-overlooked white grape variety that’s a cousin to Pinots Gris and Noir.

Panzanella! Also wine. Photo by Bobbi Lin

Alois Lageder’s 2014 Dolomiti Pinot Bianco (as Pinot Blanc is called in Italy) hails from Alto Adige, in the northeastern part of the country. The wine’s green apple and white stone fruit flavors are ripe and fresh; it’s dry but not overly acidic and has a round, almost plump mouthfeel.

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Don’t overthink the ultimate food pairing for this everyday white—this is a bottle for the picnic basket, perfectly satisfying alongside cold pasta salad and grilled chicken.

Photo by James Ransom

Your local wine shop probably won’t have more than a handful of other Pinot Blancs to explore. Keep your eyes peeled for bottlings from Alsace (try Hugel and Domaines Schlumberger, Oregon (many producers there make good Pinot Blanc, Willamette Valley Vineyards and Ponzi among them), Germany, and California. Dutton Goldfield’s Shop Block Pinot Blanc, from California’s Russian River Valley, is one worth seeking out.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“They're sometimes blended with Viura and/or Sauvignon Blanc—fans of SB will really enjoy them. ”
— Daryna T.

What's your white wine of choice? Tell us in the comments!


See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Lynn
  • Barbara Chapman
    Barbara Chapman
  • 702551
  • Daryna Tobey
    Daryna Tobey
  • LisaWvt
Daryna Tobey

Written by: Daryna Tobey

Daryna Tobey lives in New York and has been writing about wine since 2001. She is a former senior editor of Wine Enthusiast Magazine.


Lynn August 6, 2016
I have never been a Chardonnay fan, and have been known to opt for water if Chardonnay is the only wine on offer. I love a good Sauvignon Blanc, though, or YES! a Rueda Verdejo, or a Grüner Veltliner. On our last camping trip to France, we stocked up on Rosé de Provence, and Bourgogne Aligoté, which is totally delicious!
PHIL August 6, 2016
The NY Times just had an article on Gruner Veltliner, which I never heard of. I will have to give it a try.
Seems to be a general dislike of Chardonnay on this thread
Barbara C. August 4, 2016
I vote for an icy cold Puligny-Montrachet........a good French white Burgundy beats a California chard every time!
702551 August 3, 2016
I'm okay with chardonnay, however I would lean toward something from Chablis.

Not a big fan of the typical California style (over-extracted, over-oaked, higher alcohol, higher residual sugar).
Daryna T. August 3, 2016
All good suggestions! Thanks for your comments, everyone. Another warm-weather favorite of mine: Verdejo-based white wines from Rueda, Spain. They're sometimes blended with Viura and/or Sauvignon Blanc—fans of SB will really enjoy them.
LisaWvt August 3, 2016
Viogniers are refreshing and clean
PHIL August 3, 2016
will have to try
amysarah August 3, 2016
Chardonnay doesn't appeal to me at all for a warm weather picnic (though actually not one of my favorites in general.) Too rich and heavy with picnic fare - I'd much rather have a chilled Rose, Prosecco or Vinho Verde...or an ice cold beer.
PHIL August 3, 2016
Rose and Prosecco are all the rage these days. I have been drinking Whispering Angel rose. I agree on the Chardonnay although I had a few when I was in Sonoma the were good. they don't seem as oaky as they used to be.
amysarah August 3, 2016
They sure are. At least it's a good trend ;)

But rage or not, I've loved them for ages - discovered Prosecco decades ago as a student in Italy, and my parents were big rose drinkers (they spent a lot of time in Spain and So. of France.) I'm okay with Chardonnay - and have had some good ones - just never been my first choice, especially while sitting in the sun!
PHIL August 3, 2016
Suddenly we are in the cool crowd.
amysarah August 3, 2016
Nah. Statute of limitations on cool expired years ago (I speak only for myself!) And thank god for that!
Stephanie August 4, 2016
While not as common as the aforementioned rose (always a good pick), I have to agree with you. Vinho verde is everything I want in a 'summer' wine.

(And if we're talking middle of summer, hot weather beer, how about the quaffable radler or shandy?)
LisaWvt August 3, 2016
Loving prosecco , since a recent trip to Italy!
PHIL August 3, 2016
The wife likes Pinot Grigio, Cantina Zaccagnini is good one IMO. I also like sauvignon blanc.