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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Affordable, high-quality wines help to beat heat

Editor's note: Today, we introduce Raise a Glass, a new column about wine — but also about spirits and other drinks, and the art of matching food and drink.

Every other week in this space, one of our panel of writers will introduce noteworthy vintages, track trends and offer ideas for food and wine pairings. The focus is on wines and beverages you can buy here, particularly affordable ones.

Our writers include people who work in the restaurant industry, as well as distributors and retailers familiar with every aspect of the business.

By Aaron Trujillo

During warm summer months, refreshingly crisp, thirst-quenching wines bring a cooling effect to the table, or, even better, to the patio or picnic. With passion and technology working together in the wine industry, affordability and quality can be mentioned in the same breath now more than ever.

With that in mind, here are wine recommendations to make your afternoon sipping or summer meals a little more special.

These wines are available in wine shops and in some well-stocked grocery stores.

• 2003 Insolia, Cusumano. Here is a delicious, deceivingly dry, wonderfully light, crisp, fruit-driven white wine from Sicily ideal for hot-afternoon sipping and simply prepared seafood. At less than $10 a bottle, this also is a great value.

• 2002 Falanghina, Terredora. Falanghina is an ancient grape grown on the volcanic-soil slopes of Vesuvius, near Naples. Terredora, under the innovative ownership of the Mastroberardino family, is the region's brightest new prodigy. This is their house wine, often served at their family table with regional seafood specialties. Try it with fried akule, 'opelu or moi. That's kind of what they do. $15-$20.

• 2002 Albarino, Fefinanes. This is undoubtedly one of the finest whites produced in Spain. The estate has been around since the 1600s and fashioned this provocatively minerally, delicately complex, bright and refreshing wine. Intense and complex, this wine can be served with richer fish, such as salmon or shutome (swordfish), but also with moi and onaga, too. $15-$20.

• 2002 Riesling, Zilliken "Butterfly" Medium-dry. Zilliken is one of the great winemakers of Germany and the world for that matter. His Butterfly-designated bottling is a terrific, riveting, delicate, medium-dry riesling that works wonders with shrimp, scallops, lobster and crab recipes. $20-$25.

• 2003 Pinot Grigio, Palmina. One of California's hottest new winemaking stars, Steve Clifton (also of the highly acclaimed Brewer Clifton winery), is crafting some of the best Italian-style wines in America. This one combines the minerality and pedigree of Italy with a roundness and deliciousness that comes from the generous Californian sunshine. $25.

• 2003 Chardonnay, Blackwing. Here is one for those craving for chardonnay. From southern Australia, Blackwing is tasty and layered, yet is much lighter on its feet and thankfully more crisp and therefore much more food-friendly. At less than $13 a bottle, it also offers great value and certainly is worth seeking out.

Aaron Trujillo is wine buyer and general manager of Vino restaurant in Kapalua, Maui. Call Vino at (808) 661-8466, or Little Vino at Restaurant Row at 536-6286.