The top 5 white wines for Sassy sipping this summer

There is nothing nicer than a balmy summer night refreshed with a crisp white wine. Even better than a good time, there is evidence that wine in moderation*:

  1. Gives you tyrosol and hydroxytyrosol which aids prevention of heart disease (D.K. Das, University of Connecticut, School of Medicine, 2008)

  2. Protects against lung disease (University of Buffalo, School of Medicine, 2002)

  3. Protects against degeneration of the retina

  4. Improves brain function

However, there is nothing worse than settling down to a relaxing quaff only to find that your glass of nectar would probably be stiff competition for your kitchen cleaner. When wine makes your teeth curl it’s time to get advice on what to drink to enjoy rather than drink to numb your tongue. The trouble is that few of us really know our wine and tend to buy by the label than by knowledge. We shove a few bottles of plonk in the fridge and live in hope.

So the Sassistas have sought out a Sassy Wine Woman - Kelli Coxhead of The Wine Shop, Winscombe, Somerset - who will do a series of blogs for us, setting out the best wines for the season.

For this blog we had two questions: What brought you to being a Wine Sassista? and What white wines should we keep in our fridge for summer sipping with a few Sassista friends (if summer actually arrives)?

What brought you to being a Wine Sassita?

I liked a drop of wine as much as the next person and bought it usually based on the label, preferably with an animal on it, and, if it fell in the 3 for £10 offer, this was a result all round.

However, life changing events occurred which inspired me to get a one way ticket to New Zealand. I can still recall the feeling, the tummy flip, the goose-bumps the excitement of an unknown journey ahead. I knew it was going to be a life changing experience, I just didn't realise it would lead to a whole career change. On my travels I did the obligatory bungee jump, jumping out of planes, feel the fear and do it anyway type of stuff. I also visited a handful of vineyards and of course enjoyed the wine tasting but loved hearing the winemakers’ stories and feeling their passion behind it.

Returning to the UK, I decided I wanted to investigate that passion and packed my bags and headed to the big smoke to work in a national wine company.

Did you know you can actually take exams and get qualified to drink wine?! Could it get any better?

The wine world on both sides of the counter can be quite male dominated and they can often be seen wearing red trousers. Being a women this has been quite intimidating, but soon I came to realise that red trousers don't qualify you in knowing about wine. I often hear women say “I leave the wine buying to my husband, he knows what I like.”

What I love is talking with people and tasting wine with them to find out what they like, empowering them to identify what they do and don't like in a glass of wine.

So what can we be sipping on a summer evening?

There are so many grapes and styles of wine in the world that it can be difficult to choose the right bottle for you. Wine doesn't always have to be expensive, everyone’s tastebuds are different and what you enjoy is important.

I've chosen five white wine styles that I have found really appeal to a wide range of people and if you haven't tasted them, then give them a go.

Sauvignon Blanc

A lot of people like Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc wine style which is mouth-watering, fruity and easy drinking. Sancerre is also made from this grape variety but shows a different character, higher in acidity great with food, a beautiful match for Sancerre is goat’s cheese or fish.

Gruner Veltliner

An underrated and often unknown grape from Austria. Producing dry white wines bursting with citrus fruit, zesty lemons with mouth-watering acidity. A wine matching great with foods such as fish but also superb to Asian spiced dishes.


Wanting more body in your white wine, then try viognier (pronounced vee-yon-yey, the g is silent). Here you move in to stone fruit, peach flavours, warmer richer style and softer on the acidity. Great with chicken and white meat.

Viura (aka Macabeo)

This is a white grape widely grown across Spain especially within the Rioja region and one of the grapes found in Spanish Sparkling Cava. It is a versatile grape producing fresh styles, oaked wines and sparkling wines. Unoaked wines show delicate light fresh styles, with oak influence the wine will give you a fuller rounded style with lovely toasty spicy notes.


A love hate relationship with many… “I don't like Chardonnay but love Chablis!” It is one and the same thing, Chablis being the region within France and the grape producing this wine is Chardonnay. Chardonnay takes on what the wine maker throws at it, don't blame the fairly neutral grape. It produces flinty fresh whites all the way through to full-bodied rich wines. This grape is also found in Champagne.

Top tips for white wine

I have found that some say they don't like white wine because it makes them shudder and their teeth to go funny. It could be to do with the temperature it is being served at. It is suggested that white wine is served at 10oc whereas a fridge is often 5oc. The reason for this, is that the cold doesn't allow for the flavours of the wine to come though, so therefore the flavours are closed and all you feel and taste is the harsh acidity and alcohol. Next time you pour a glass of white allow it to warm up a bit to show the full potential of the wine and its flavour.

Until next time... Happy Tasting!

Kelli Coxhead

The Wine Shop


*most studies set moderation at about 1 glass of wine a day or less. Also, saving your wine up for the weekend and bingeing will do more harm and no good!

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