Can we be honest with each other? Is this a safe space? We know that you like your off-dry Yellowtail riesling or sweet Barefoot Moscato, but what you really like is spending $8 or less for a bottle of easy-drinking white wine. But did you know that for just a few bucks more, you can upgrade your experience twentyfold?
Meet torrontés: the aromatic Argentinian grape variety capable of producing the ultimate summer sipping wine. Though most commonly made in a dry style, torrontés packs all of the fruit and floral notes of the aforementioned commercial stuff, but with none of the sugar. And given the relative quality that torrontés wines generally have to offer -- i.e. plenty of structure, balance, and complexity -- they’re still cheap as all hell.
See, the grape has always had the potential to be awesome, but quite a bit of care is required to temper its naturally high levels of acidity, bitterness, and alcohol. Fortunately, Argentinian winemakers are now more skilled than ever before, so the US is finally beginning to see an influx of amazing torrontés.
A little background. The native South American grape itself is divided into three sub-varieties: Torrontés Riojano, Torrontés Sanjuanino, and Torrontés Mendocino, the first of which is the most sought after, growing predominantly in Argentina’s northern region of Salta, where harsh conditions at high altitudes bring out the best of the grape. Torrontés grown in Mendoza and La Rioja are generally more muted in aroma and complexity, often destined to become sweet wines, or simple dry wines meant to be drunk fresh.
But whatever the origin, Argentinian torrontés is generally known for moderate-to-high acidity, a smooth, balanced mouthfeel, and assertive aromas of citrus, peach, and flowers (typically rose petals). The wines pair just as well with traditional hot meat empanadas as they do with spicy Asian cuisines such as Thai, Chinese or Indian food.
This is the low-budget wine you've been waiting for, one that doesn't compromise on taste. To get you started, here are some suggested torrontés wines from different regions and producers that can be found on the cheap (plus one splurge buy at just over $20 if you feel like getting cray-cray).