Instead of settling down for the summer months with a tried and true white wine, now is the time to experiment with a variety of different ones at your own wine-tasting party.
You can compare several white wines and make up a list of new choices to see you through the summer. Your liquor store can offer guidelines on how many bottles you should provide for how many guests.
Food is not the point of a wine tasting and should be limited to bread, cheese and fruit. Mary Wilkinson at Mayflower Wines & Spirits suggests that since the wines are light, they should be accompanied by very mild cheeses, a fresh cream cheese, perhaps, or a Monterey Jack, served with Carr's Water Biscuits and fresh fruit or preserves.
To properly compare the wines, they should be judged first on their color, then on their smell, and lastly on their taste. Alexis Lichine, in his Guide to the Wines and Vineyards of France, writes:
"To taste for the maximum pleasure requires nothing out of the ordinary. Take a small amount of wine (more than a sip, but less than a gulp) on the tongue, and, before swallowing it, let it rest on the tongue, purse your lips, and draw some air in over it, making a gurgling sound. This is an optional step, but the aeration does expose many other dimensions of the wine. . .
"To describe the taste of wine is at the same time the easiest and the hardest of the three steps of wine appreciation: The object is pleasure, not brow wrinkling. Still, identifying and 'naming' tastes is a game that all people who drink wine with enjoyment can play. Descriptions of wines in terms of violets, carnations, currants, truffles, and any other fruit or tuber known to man may sound needlessly esoteric, but it can have a special accuracy. . . . Comparing wines is the most instructive way to learn about them and the best way of testing yourself as a taster."
Some suggestions from knowledgable wine buyers on whites for a summer wine tasting:
Fred Reno, A & A Liquors, 1909 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 331-8989, recommends two wines that sell for $5.99: a 1980 Kenwood Chenin Blanc, dry with a touch of sweetness, and a 1979 Muscadet, Chateau La Noe. He also would offer a dry wine, a 1979 Schloss Johannisberger Kabinett ($9.99) with a 1976 Trimbach Gewurtztraminer, Cuvee des Seigneurs des Ribeaupierre ($13.49).
Rick DeLauder, Central Liquors, 518 9th St. NW, 737-2800, recommends a 1979 Klusserather St. Michael Spatlese ($4), a 1979 Steinberger-Trocken Kabinett ($6.75), Havelock Gordon's white table wine ("lots of Chardonnay," he says) at $3.20 and a Madonna Liebfraumilch ($3.50).
At MacArthur Liquors, 4877 MacArthur Blvd. NW, 338-1433, Elliott Staren chooses a 1979 Macon-Village Chardonnay Le Grand Cheneau ($5.99), a 1979 Cedar Ridge Sonoma Chardonnay ($4.99), a 1979 Chablis Premier Cru, Vaillons, Domaine Laroche ($11.95) and "for the creme de la creme," a 1978 Mersault Les Charmes Boillot-Buthiau ($19.95).
Mary Wilkinson at Mayflower Wines & Spirits, 2115 M St. NW, 463-7950, suggests a medium-dry white burgundy, the 1979 Rully Clos St. Jacques ($10.25), a 1979 Cedar Ridge Sonoma Chardonnay ($4.99), the light Ambassador Colombard ($2.59) and, sweeter and heavier, a Gewurtztraminer Auslese ($9.50).
At Morris Miller, 7804 Alaska Ave. NW, 723-5000, Fred Gordon suggests Stag's Leap 1977 Johannisberg Riesling ($5.99 to $6.99), a Chateau St. Jean 1979 Vin Blanc ($4.99-$5.99), an Almaden import, a 1979 Pouilly-Fuisse, Novis Rene Savin ($8.99-$9.99), and a Carneros Creek 1979 Napa Chardonnay ($12.99-$13.99).
Paul Furman, Towne Wine & Liquors, 1326 Wisconsin Ave. NW, 338-2200, suggests contrasting a quite dry burgundy-type wine, a blended Moreau-Blanc ($3.99), with Wente Brothers Blanc de Blanc ($3.69), a chenin blanc grape, lighter and mellower than the Moreau-Blanc. Similarly, he suggests the contrast of a 1978 Macon-Lugny, Les Charms, a dry pinot chardonnay ($6.99) with a Louis Latour 1979 Pouilly-Fuisse ($14.99).