THE BLOG
07/11/2014 02:45 pm ET Updated Sep 10, 2014

Take the Summer Wine Challenge

Put away the Moscato. Forget everyday Pinot Grigio. For the rest of the Summer Wine Challenge.

It's a vacation from two wines: one like a soda with alcohol and the other so meager in flavor that it defies identification. The goal is simply to experience new taste options in the vast realm of dry whites; to restart our wine palates.

It's an easy plan to follow. But a tough assignment for those who insist on strictly sweet wines. For this exercise, any sweet wine is forbidden.

Remember what Mama said: No sweets before and during meals? Apply this to wine consumption. Sweet and sugary won't whet the appetite the way a crisp white will and, unless the meal is steaming, peppery hot, dry wine is often much more harmonious than sweet. Really good Moscato is produced and is worth seeking out, after the challenge.

Diners order Pinot Grigio reflexively. Terrific versions of the grape have roots in Oregon, Italy, and Alsace, but seldom show up as glass pours. Commercial grade Pinot Grigio by-the-glass is just another white with an easy name to remember; it's unobtrusive and forgettable, like a Budweiser on a hot day.

11 weeks of summer remain so there's a new wine - or at least a fresh category - for each week. A variety of dry whites with unique flavors, aromas, and texture. Find something in the general categories if you can't locate the exact bottles. When the leaves hit the water in autumn, you just might find yourself extending the challenge.

Domaine de Pouy - France - (Robert Kacher): A lively, enduring blend of Columbard and Ugni Blanc from the Cotes du Gascogne.

Talmard Macon-Chardonnay - France - (Vintus) - Most of this estate rests in the Macon commune of Chardonnay and this delicious wine is from the grape of the same name.

Hugl Gruner Veltner - Austria - (Kysela) - Well-done Gruner, the main white grape of Austria.

Gruet Brut - New Mexico - One of the best value domestic sparkling wine producers.

Syncline Grenache Blanc - Washington - A tasteful introduction to a standout Pacific Northwest winery.

Voss Napa Sauvignon Blanc - California - Single vineyard, organically farmed.

Domaine de La Pepiere Muscadet - France - (Louis Dressner) A benchmark producer of the grape called Melon de Bourgogne.

Hippolyte Reverdy Sancerre - France - (Kermit Lynch) - A starting point for this classic source of Sauvignon Blanc.

Fillaboa Albarino - Spain - (Wines From Spain) - A full-flavored version of a well-known Spanish grape.

Pieropan Soave Classico - Italy - (Neil Empson) - A delicate, flowery white from the Veneto region.

Palmina Arneis - California - Savory Italian grape expertly handled by a winery specializing in Italian-origin grape types.