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Perfect Summer Wines for Entertaining

That oaky chardonnay you got for Christmas warmed the body on chilly winter nights. But now it's late May and warmer temperatures call for a different approach. You may prefer wines that go well with grilled meats and seafood, or are just plain fun to sip.

One you could try is Grecante Greshetto 2003 from Italy, recommended by Victoria Guantonio, co-owner of the Pacific Wine Club store in Medford. She and husband, Ken Green, look for good, lesser-known wines from around the world as well as Southern Oregon.

"Grecante is an impressive aperitif wine and a great accompaniment to fish and white meat or perfect as a summer, stand-alone sipper. It is soft, well-balanced and pleasantly fruity," says Guantonio. "The Grecante of Montefalco was among the celebrated wines of this variety and was historically given as a precious gift by farmers to the princes and cardinals of the community."

Mike Hogan, co-owner of Rosario's Italian Restaurant in Medford likes Monkey Bay 2004 and 2005 Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. "It has a fruity, almost tropical flavor," says Hogan. "It is fantastic with grilled halibut, scallops or shrimp, especially scallops. The tropical flavor matches well with the sweetness of the scallops."

Mike's wife Laura Hogan likes Bontera 2004 Chardonnay, an organic wine from Mendocino County, California. Unlike most chardonnays, which are heavy, it is very light and goes well with chicken or pasta, the Hogans say.

William Prahl, chef-owner at Gogi's Restaurant in Jacksonville, recommends rosés, especially French ones. He likes Abel Clement non-vintage Cote du Rhone Rosé from France and also Sobon Estate 2004 Rosé from California. A superior rosé wine is good for summer sipping because it offers a "nice balance - not too sweet like a white zinfandel," he says.

A local wine, Il Carino Rosso 2003 from Wooldridge Creek in the Applegate Valley, wins Mike Hogan's vote for a red to go with heartier grilled fare. The wine is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, sangiovese and zinfandel. "It goes great with any kind of grilled meat, especially red meat," says Hogan.

Skip from Oregon to Argentina for a moment and consider Guantonio's choice for best barbecue wine. It's Dona Paula 2004 Malbec Lujan de Cuyo.

"Malbec can be a very interesting wine and is widely available in most places, now," she says. "Argentina has produced a lot of wine with this grape ... This particular wine shows classic Malbec character with a fruity core and a peppery finish. Great with barbecue as the smoky richness of wine marries with grilled meats."

Two of the Rogue Valley's older wineries, Valley View Vineyard and Winery and Weisinger's of Ashland, make some good summer wines.

Mark Wisnovsky, Valley View president, mentions two of his wines, Anna Maria 2004/2005 Viognier and Anna Maria 2005 Rosato. The Viognier is "loaded with flavors of peach, apricot and pear with a wonderful floral aroma," he says. The rosé, made from tempranillo and syrah, offers "lots of strawberry and watermelon fruit flavors with a crisp, dry finish …a fun wine to pair with fruit or light meals."

For a nice refreshing summer wine, Eric Weisinger, winemaker at Weisinger's of Ashland, suggests the winery's 2002 Petite Blanc. It's a blend of gewurtztraminer, semillon and viognier, offering tropical fruit flavors. He also mentions his 2004 Semillon/Chardonnay, another white blend. "It's a wonderfully dry wine that pairs with a number of light fares (chicken, seafood, pork)," says Weisinger.

Make a list of these wines and then use them to complement the delicious food you serve on those warm summer nights. Great friends, good food and the perfect wine; Here's to summer!

Perfect Summer Wines for Entertaining