In search of values for summer wine sipping, our expert tasters sampled 38 pinot grigios and rieslings, winnowed the field, and wound up with 13 recommended wines, including seven Consumer Reports Best Buys, and one in a box from Target.
Plus, find out whether the Corkcicle wine chiller really works.
Prices listed below and in our Ratings, which also cover cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, pinot noir, red blends, red zinfandel, rosé, sauvignon blanc, shiraz, and sparkling wines, are for a 750-ml bottle or its equivalent.
The grape is the same whether called pinot grigio or pinot gris. Pinot grigio is less complex than other varietals, so a higher price is especially unlikely to buy a better wine.
The recommended wines are dry, balanced, and light-bodied, with refreshing acidity. They come from all over: Black Swan from Australia, Wine Cube from California, Livio from Italy, Hogue from Washington. The also-rans—Adelsheim Pinot Gris, Yellow Tail, King Estate Signature Pinot Gris, and Ca Montini—lack the balance, fruit intensity, or crispness of the best.
Pinot grigios are a good aperitif and pair with many foods, especially goat cheese, veggies and dip, light pasta dishes, poached seafood, sushi and sashimi, and raw oysters.
All the recommended pinots are 2010.
Bottom line. Black Swan is dry and tart but still ripe and full flavored, with floral and apple notes; Wine Cube has big fruit flavors, including banana and pear. Cavit has ripe fruit and floral notes plus refreshing acidity.
Expect varying sweetness plus intense fruit, especially in the sweeter rieslings, whose grapes have spent more time on the vine.
The recommended wines are generally well balanced and moderately complex. The also-rans—Pacific Rim Organic, Kung Fu Girl, and Columbia Crest Two Vines—are less intense or have off-notes. Saint M and Clean Slate are from Germany; the rest, from Washington. All are 2010.
Rieslings can be an aperitif or dessert wine and go well with sweet-and-sour food, rich meats and seafood, and spicy Asian food.
Bottom line. Of the riesling CR Best Buys, Hogue has a mix of intense, ripe, honeyed fruit and is more complex than most; Saint M is a bit sweet, with good acidity and ripe fruit; Chateau Ste. Michelle Harvest Select has nice tropical-fruit notes but could use more acidity; and Clean Slate has crisp acidity with fruit, floral, and herbaceous notes.
Corkcicle: A new way to chill wine?
The claim. “Perfectly chilled wine, every time,” says the maker of Corkcicle, a reusable, gel-filled plastic bottle stopper you freeze, then insert in a wine bottle to keep wine tasting its best. (A bucket of ice overchills most wines, damping their flavor.) It costs $23.
The check. We put Corkcicles in bottles of chilled white wine and unchilled red. In a 68° F room we then charted their temperatures against those of non-Corkcicled wines for 4 hours. We also checked wine temperatures high, low, and in the middle of each bottle.
Bottom line. Perfect? No, but Corkcicles might be useful at a picnic. They were easy to insert and remove, and 20 minutes after insertion, the average white-wine temperature had indeed fallen, by about 2 degrees. (Temperature of the reds had fallen by about 7 degrees.) Temps then began a gradual rise, and they differed from the bottom of bottles to the top, by 4 degrees in white wine. At home, it may be easier to store a bottle in a bucket of cold water and add a little ice as the water warms.
Check out our wine buying guide for more information, including the ideal serving temperature for different types of wine. And if you're considering buying a unit to store your best bottles, use our wine chiller buying guide.
Copyright © 2006-2012 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.