Among white wines, sauvignon blanc is one of the most distinctive styles. Sauvignon blanc grapes look and taste much like other green grapes, but the wines they make are so uncommonly fragrant they're among the easiest for beginners to learn to recognize by smell alone. Most dry white wines have a fundamental apple-pear resemblance in terms of flavor, but most sauvignon blancs deviate from that baseline with a citrusy scent of lemons, limes, or grapefruit that's rarely found in other wine varieties. As with this California example, they are like the gin of the white wine world, in that they frequently feature aromatic herbal accents as well, such as the scent of fresh green parsley or tomato leaves. Preserving these appealing citrus and botanical aromatics requires harvesting the grapes before they reach complete ripeness, though, often weeks earlier than the norm. The grapes for this snappy wine, for example, are not just picked early, but also harvested at night, because bringing the fruit in at the coldest possible time of day helps keep it tasting as brisk as a gin and tonic with lime. These steps help the wine retain palate-cleansing acidity and a hint of leafy flavors, while also suppressing its alcohol content, making for a lighter, brighter wine.
Geyser Peak sauvignon blanc, California, $9.99. (Sale price through Sunday; regularly $12.99.) PLCB Item #5741