So, when looking for a good wine match for pesto, I stumbled upon this SF Chronicle article gathering the opinions of great SF Bay chefs on the classic summer dilemma of pairing wine with fresh vegetables. Virtually all raw veggies are pretty wine un-friendly, and choosing a nice wine match for a meal starring even cooked veggies can be a challenge. So I was happy to find this advice for matching wine to meals made from fresh herbs, such as pesto:
"Green herbal and grassy notes in many New Zealand and some domestic Sauvignon Blancs, and other white wines like Albarino, echo summer herbs' freshness. Wines with intense fruit can work well, provided they doesn't have too much leftover sugar.I was fresh out of my typical stand-by for such a circumstance, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc; but as luck would have it, I had a nice Gruner Veltliner patiently awaiting consumption in the cellar.
If the herbs are used along with richer ingredients like cheese or butter, a light red may be a good option. As for pesto, its intensity requires an equally intense wine.
Examples: Albarino; unoaked or lightly oaked Chardonnay; Gruner Veltliner; dry Riesling; Sauvignon Blancs with some weight, depth and grassy or mineral notes; Italian Sangiovese; light to moderately oaked Barbera or Dolcetto."
Never heard of Grüner Veltliner? It's definitely a grape worth remembering. As you might guess by the name, the grape is most widely grown in Austria (accounting for over 1/3 of all grapes grown there) although it is beginning to catch on elsewhere. I think of "Gee-Vee" as the Germanic world's New Zealand Sauv Blanc - minerally, crisp and fresh with a nice acidity, Gruner Veltliners are very food friendly, and are as age-worthy (if not more so) than dry Rieslings.
2005 Anton Bauer Gruner Veltliner
Tonight's wine was a 2005 Anton Bauer Gruner Veltliner. Besides displaying the typical GV characteristics mentioned above, this wine had some melon to it, and perhaps some white pepper. The overall impression though is of a fresh, clean wine which went spectacularly with our fresh pesto! (Thanks SF Chronicle!)
Selling for $11 at Total Wine in McLean, VA, I'd say this wine has a Good Quality-to-Price Ratio (QPR). I'll give it a couple extra points for variety's sake as it's an excellent alternative once you've exhausted your palate on Sauvignon Blancs and Unoaked Chardonnays during the hot summer months. If you've never tried one, give it a shot!