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When walking the long aisles of a wine shop, you’ve probably had moments of discouragement, not because of an inadequate selection of wines but from the humdrum feeling you experience reading the routine labels one after another — cabernet, cabernet, cabernet; merlot, merlot, merlot; chardonnay, chardonnay, chardonnay.

Every once in a while a snazzy label jumps out at you and for a split second you are drawn to the shelf, only to resume chanting the familiar “Cabernet … cabernet … cabernet.”

There is no need for the monotonous wine search when more than 150 different commonly grown varietals await your palate. For a head start on stepping out of the box consider exploring these refreshing summer favorites.

Snubbed almost as often as white zinfandel, Rieslings may be the most under-appreciated white grapes in the world. That’s usually because of the continued misunderstood image of all Rieslings as sweet, the cumbersome, confusing labels or simply because people have not explored the surprising and racy crispness of dry Rieslings.

In its youth it is crisp, light, apple-y and refreshing. With age, fine Rieslings take on aromas of petroleum (in a good way) and become richer on the palate.


  • 2010 Cupcake Dry Riesling, California (about $12 retail)


  • 2009 Spy Valley Riesling, New Zealand (about $24 retail)

If you enjoy New World chardonnay, you’ll love the unique taste of Viognier. Traditionally grown in France’s northern Rhone region, California’s Rhone Rangers are beginning to master this rich, perfumed grape. At its best it’s a dry, opulent, rich, mouthwatering wine with layers of aromatic flowers.


  • 2010 Yulumba Y Series Viognier, Australia (about $12 retail)


  • 2010 Bridlewood Viognier, California (about $23 retail)

Albarino is produced and grown in the Rias Baixas region of northwest Spain. The climate in most of Spain can best be described as hot, hotter and unbearable. This area offers much cooler temperatures and has an abundance of rainfall, all contributing to Albarino’s delicate, lively, aromatic characteristic. For centuries, its following was in the local Spanish market, but since its release to the rest of the world, it is emerging with cult status in limited quantities.


  • 2009 Martin Codax Albarino, Spain (about $14 retail)


  • 2009 Laxas Albarino, Spain (about $20 retail)