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Wines for warmer weather
Sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, rosé, chardonnay make ideal pairings with lighter fare

Just as a fashionista switches from pointy-toed to open-toed at the sign of warm weather, the wine lover hides away (most of) her hearty reds in search of something lighter.

Wines just right for sipping on the veranda (even if only a mental one) are not only pleasing to the palate, but soothing to the mind.

The go-to warm-weather wines of California - sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, rosé and chardonnay - typically offer the balanced acidity and low alcohol levels required to be refreshing on their own, or as a delightful pairing with lighter fare.

Pinot grigio, also called pinot gris, a varietal circuitously related to pinot noir, is a crisp, light white wine ideal with grilled vegetables, cheeses and assorted hors d'oeuvres, especially antipasto.

Beringer is making an estate pinot grigio for the first time.

"I wanted to make a California-style pinot grigio, loaded with fruit-salad characteristics, but also bright, crisp and refreshing," said winemaker Mary Sullivan.

"When I pick up a glass, I am immediately drawn to the passion fruit and jasmine aromas, followed with wonderful honeydew, grapefruit and kiwi flavors."

Fruity rosés have long dominated in the sunnier regions of France, particularly the southern Rhone and into Provence, where a seafood dish wouldn't be complete without a glass or two.

Unlike most hot-weather wines, rosés (rosatos in Italy) are made from red wine grapes, but end up taking on a pinkish hue when the juice is pressed off or "bled" away from the skins before much of the red color is soaked in.

California is becoming a startlingly good place for rosé these days, made by a range of producers from a range of grape varietals (merlot and sangiovese are popular) in a range of reddish colors.

Certain producers are committed enough to rosé to have formed a group - RAP, the Rosé Avengers and Producers - whose goal it is to "right the wrongs done to dry rosé." The wrongs include overly sweet "blush" or "pink" wines that have long given rosé a bad name.

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