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Wine Style Focus: Sauvignon Blanc

Unpretentious, inviting, and crisp, Sauvignon Blanc is a wine for good times. This is an excellent wine to keep around for unexpected company and unusual food pairings.

The spunky Sauvignon Blanc grape is an ancient one and was traditionally used for blending. In its native France it lent an acidic zip to classic wines such as Sauternes and white Bordeaux. As a stand-alone grape it is most associated with New Zealand, and especially the Marlborough region, but it is grown all over the world, with excellent examples from South Africa and California as well. Soil rich in limestone tends to bring out flinty notes in the wine; fermenting on the cool side is recommended to bring out the best of its bright and fruity flavors.

One of the most distinctive wines around, Sauv Blanc has an upfront acidic bite, which makes it refreshing and well-suited for the summer months. It can also have flavors of tropical fruits as well as grassy and herbaceous notes. It is often drunk young and without the use of oak, though aged and oaked versions can be complex, with more subdued fruitiness. If you love wine with food, keep a few bottles of this stuff in the cellar.

Sauvignon Blanc is one of the easiest and best wines to pair with food. Its uncomplicated and refreshingly acidic character allow it to match well with a wide variety of dishes, from delicate sushi to garlic-laden entrees. Some classic matches are with shellfish, goat cheese, and even spicy Thai food.