Corn on the cob with basil butter, fresh crudité with homemade hummus, shrimp burgers with lemon aioli: dishes like these spring effortlessly from Louisiana's lush summer bounty. Local farmers markets are at their peak across the state right now, and our Red Stick Farmers Market in Baton Rouge is one of the largest, providing plenty of raw materials for countless warm-weather dishes.
Summer's diverse, inspired menus scream for exploring different wines. This month, we look at three non-Chardonnay whites that pair beautifully with concoctions made easily from local ingredients, including dishes like zucchini and tomato gazpacho, orecchiette with salsa cruda and ricotta salata and mixed-berry sundaes with a splash of cassis. Even if you move to red wines throughout dinner, these whites serve as solid aperitifs that perform well with varied nibbles and starters.
Chenin Blanc Viognier • 2011 • $16
The 2011 vintage of this reliable blend presents a solid fruit-and-floral balance. Pear and apple particularly emerge, along with honey and jasmine. Chenin Blanc comprises 79%, making the wine crisp and versatile, while 21% Viognier adds powerful fruit and a creamy texture. A perfect evening starter, the wine pairs well with Asian-inspired hors d'oeuvres and a range of cheeses. Try it with Thai cuisine, pan-roasted salmon and pesto shrimp.
Winemaker's Blend • California • $14
“Seven Daughters” refers to the California-grown varietals that are blended in this trendy wine: Riesling, Symphony, Chardonnay, Orange Muscat, Gewürztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc and French Colombard. The result is a full-in-the-mouth quaffer that features notes of orange and lychee. The finish is creamy with a hint of spice. You can dress it up or down, but it begs for light, flaky fish with mango salsa, curried chicken salad and Pacific Rim cuisine.
Malbec Rosé • 2011 • Argentina • $13
A solid wine from a dependable winemaker, this falls on the sturdy end of dry rosés. The hue is deep and vibrant, the texture is full and round, and the wine presents notes of ripe strawberries. A spicy finish brings things home and helps it pair with a range of dishes, including a cheese and charcuterie plate, roast chicken with tarragon and sushi, which may be rosé's best pal.