Green Wines: Keeping St Patrick’s Day Classy
Green beer or Green Wine?
As a Chicago girl, I relate to the need for St. Patrick’s Day exploits. On my 21st birthday, I celebrated at Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. Actually, it ended up being the last of its kind, as the south side Irish neighborhood got fed up with college students rampaging bars for Irish car bombs and destroying the streets (I was respectful).
St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th) celebrates Ireland’s patron saint, but over the years has evolved into one of the world’s most popular drinking holidays. Once centered around Irish Whisky, Americans ran with the holiday and started marketing green beer just for the occasion. Now, as a more mature version of the 21-year-old Chicagoan with Irish/German roots, I’ve game-planned a new strategy.
What is Green Wine
Unlike green beer, green wine doesn’t get its color with food coloring. Instead, this is a list of pale white wines that naturally hold a green hue. These wines are refreshing with balanced alcohol, often with savory aromas. Of course, these wines aren’t the intense green to match your Irish attire, but rather slightly suggestive, like a green veil.
Sauvignon Blanc is one of the world’s most popular grapes due to its zippy acidity and fruity aroma. While New Zealand made the grape famous, its spiritual home is in France. Sancerre in the Loire Valley offers a particularly mineral and delightfully grassy example, but some of my personal favorites come in the form of White Bordeaux. In Bordeaux, Sauvignon Blanc is typically blended with Semillon, offering a bit of a richer midpalate.
Melon de Bourgogne
Melon de Bourgogne is a bit of a misnomer. Although it takes its name from Burgundy, the grape is best in the Loire Valley’s Muscadet Sèvre et Maine. The Muscadet region runs along France’s Western Atlantic coast, lending to a cool maritime climate perfect for a refreshing & mineral white wine. Muscadet is often aged sur lie, or on its dead yeast cells, which gives the mineral white more texture. This is your textbook shellfish pairing.
Albariño is as fun to drink as it is to say. You can find some interesting examples in California, but the classic home is in Rias Baixas on Spain’s Green Coast. This region is “green” due to higher rainfall than most of Spain. Albariño grows well on the coast, with tropical fruit aromas finished by salty acidity. It’s a crowd-pleasure and remains versatile with fish, vegetarian dishes, or white meat.
Green is literally in the name of Austria’s most coveted white grape, Grüner Veltliner. The aromas lend themselves to white pepper and savory herbs, while the palate can range from light and quaffable to intense and full-bodied. If you find a Grüner from the famous Wachau region, the body is evident on the label (in order from lightest to fullest): Steinfeder, Federspiel, Smaragd. A few other grape varieties take the Veltliner name, but Grüner takes the crown.
Vinho Verde: the Ultimate Green Wine
The most apparent green wine missing from this list is Portugal’s Vinho Verde, just across Rias Baixas’s border. Vinho Verde is named for its region, but the wine itself has a slight straw and green hue. It’s very light and slightly fizzy, which makes for a perfect summertime refresher.