Waving the Bear Flag on the first day of summer

The first day of summer warrants a crisp, fresh white wine. From the girl who prefers reds, it takes a really hot day to make me crave a fruity white. Enter Bear Flag Bright White Wine Blend. I made salsa chicken, which is basically salsa (homemade and home-canned, in this case!) poured over chicken breasts and baked until done, Mexican-style Rice-a-Roni and green salad. I needed a spry, crisp white, nothing woody or heavy to complement the spice in this dish.

The Bright White is a dry blend of chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc and gewurztraminer. I like each of those on their own, so blended together they make a dynamite combo of mellow fruit — pear and melon, perhaps — with a hint of fizz. There are no oaky or vanilla-y flavors here, and no detectable sugar. The fruit is naturally sweet but not syrupy.

A friend recently turned me on to adding a splash of San Pellegrino to white wine, and this is a perfect wine for that. I wouldn’t adulterate it with 7-Up, c’mon, I’m not a barbarian! But a splash of Pellegrino plays up the natural fizz of the wine without diluting the crispy flavor.

This wine would also be an excellent complement to a citrus-marinaded fish or a light lemon-tinged chicken alfredo. I found the Bright White on sale at Trader Joe’s for around $8, a steal for a weeknight meal! Pair it with an easy zesty dish like I made tonight and enjoy! (If you enjoy this wine, check out the rest of Bear Flag’s Modesto, Calif., wines – very approachable table wines that can be respectably served any night of the week.)

By the way, spend some time studying the wine-label art by Eduardo Bertone, an artist with a distinctive style of refined mania. His illustrations are almost graffiti-like, but that is an injustice to his art. Check out his website and come to your own conclusion of what he represents.