Sipping the light fantastic 

A fresh twist on summer sippers

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As we inch toward summer on the coast, it's time we start thinking about something lighter, fresher and fun to drink. Not to put too fine a "twist" on it but we've decided a long list of screw cap wines are more than enough to turn any patio into party central or the perfect place for an al fresco evening bite.

The trick is to clear your mind of all those big heavy reds, the oak, the tannins, the alcohol, the warmth, the long persistent finish and literally lighten up your taste. Let the sunlight — I promise, it's coming — and the warm breezes of summer transform your thinking and your list.

For those of you still debating the merits of screw cap, get over it. Screw caps are here to stay at some level, especially if the grapes in question are sauvignon blanc, viognier, pinot grigio, rosé and most un-oaked whites. You can add a certain sector of red wines to that list, too.

It's our contention that even the finest cork in the world tends to shave off or, at the very least, dampen the last five per cent of the most delicate fruit aromas and flavours found in any wine. While that made be useful for big alcoholic reds when it comes to summer sippers, it's simply not acceptable.

Of course screw caps have an even broader appeal for those of us fed up with wines suffering from the dreaded cork taint and its mix of mildew, mold and wet basement odours. Still others are quickly growing fond of the easy access screw caps allow for opening and pouring wine. All the more reason to head for the patio as the weather improves, and the better news is there are plenty of selections in British Columbia that fit the lighter, brighter, fresher category.

If you were to dissect all these wines, something I'm dead set against in the summer, you would discover that it is the acidity that freshens the palate, lightens the wine and makes it so food friendly. But enough — let's get to the wines.

We begin with a sparkling moscato that can brighten any summer afternoon — Mionetto Il Moscato N/V ($18). This is one nimble bubble on the palate and it's packed with refreshing ripe peach flavours and spicy baked apple mineral fruit. We love the crown cap closure you can simply pop off with a bottle opener. Chill this down for an aperitif or switch things up and serve with your favourite spicy Thai or Indian dishes.

I can't say enough about the Poggiotondo Toscana Bianco 2011 ($17) made by famed Italian wine consultant Alberto Antonini, who, incidentally, is involved in making a wine in the Okanagan Valley. Alberto Antonini mixes vermentino, ansonica and malvasia to craft his Tuscan bianco that has long spicy pear fruit flavours with a touch of almonds in the finish. Creamy cheeses, light seafood and summer-weight foods are a great match.

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