Hot August whites: Take the flavor notes of your everyday wine—and find them in something new to you

Since 1986, Hot August Nights has been a premier showcase for classic cars, custom hot rods and other exotic vehicles in Reno, Sparks and Virginia City.

August is not the time to be driving your mom’s 1980 Chevrolet Citation around Reno. It’s also not the time to be drinking your mom’s white wine. Don’t get me wrong; August is a perfect time to drink cool, refreshing white wines, but just as with the cars at Hot August Nights, why not enjoy wines that are classic, custom or exotic?

The first step in finding your hot-rod wine: Ponder the characteristics of what you normally drink. Do you normally drink an easy-riding, luxurious Cadillac of a chardonnay, with rich oak and buttery soft leather? Perhaps you drink a stripped-down sauvignon blanc that hugs the curves of your glass? Is it fruity, acidic (sour), mineral, tannic, spicy or earthy?

In order to find wines that have the high-gloss finish and RPMs we desire, I spoke to Amanda Flangas, one of the owners of Midtown Spirits Wine and Bites, at 1527 S. Virginia St. I asked her about the white wines now being served.

“Every week, we change our wines by the glass, both reds and whites,” she said. “We have a different offering of whites every week in hopes that we will introduce our patrons to some wines that maybe they might not recognize right off the bat. So, for instance, we always have a really nice French sparkling. I will say sparkling rosés and sparkling white right now in our place are very, very popular. It’s hot, right?”

Now for the next step: Find a custom, exotic wine that has the same characteristics of your everyday drinker—especially fruit notes.

If your wine has citrus fruit notes—like lemons, limes, grapefruits or oranges—you likely enjoy more acidic wines. More common wines like sauvignon blanc, sparkling whites and pinot gris often have these characteristics—but if you want to impress your friends or simply enjoy something less common, try ordering an albariño, vermentino, verdejo, assyrtiko, roussanne or picpoul.

Fans of stone fruits, like nectarines, peaches and apricots, tend to find those notes in a chardonnay, pinot gris or riesling. Some wines that will turn heads that also have these flavors include chenin blanc, grenache blanc and grüner veltliner.

“I have a very diverse clientele with people in their 30s to their 80s, and many are, like, ‘We want strictly imports; we want nothing from the States.’”

Morgan Brody, Midtown Spirits Wine and Bites

Flavors of tropical fruits—pineapple, mango, kiwi, lychee and passion fruit—can be found in everyday drinkers like sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and pinot grigio. If you want more of these tropical flavors in a sexy, exotic wine, you might want to try a gewürztraminer, marsanne, soave or an airén.

Morgan Brody, the general manager and wine-buyer at Midtown Spirits Wine and Bites, said she’s seen an increase in customers asking specifically for imported wines.

“I have a very diverse clientele with people in their 30s to their 80s, and many are, like, ‘We want strictly imports; we want nothing from the States,’” she said. “Verdejo, vermentino, sancerre and albariño are all great options for them, from France, Italy and Spain.”

Those can all be great choices—and lead perfectly into the last flavor profile I want to mention: minerality.

Minerality often presents itself in wine as saltiness, a stone-like flavor or even chalkiness. These flavors can be very hard to describe or explain—but they can also create the “backbone” of a wine. Some of our everyday drinking wines that tend to offer these mineral flavors include riesling, pinot gris and sauvignon blanc. If you want to really lean in for more mineral horsepower, try a chablis, sancerre, albariño, muscadet or a vinho verde.

Just as I hope you appreciate all the beautiful vehicles you’ll see at the Hot August Nights events, I hope you will try some of these more exotic wines. If you are unsure, stop in and get a wine flight from Amanda or Morgan—and tell them you want a hot rod wine!