Food & Drink

Say what? Some of the best summer wines are hard to pronounce

Txakolina (say it CHOCK-oh-lee-nuh) come in white, red and rose versions at Foxcroft Wine Company.
Txakolina (say it CHOCK-oh-lee-nuh) come in white, red and rose versions at Foxcroft Wine Company.

There are some who think the reason wines made from grapes like chardonnay and merlot have been so popular is not only that they taste good, but that the names are easy to say.

That may not be accurate – some tongue-twistingly delicious wines are quite popular, and perfect for hot-weather drinking.

Here are five fun summer wines that are hard to say but easy to drink:

Txakolina (CHOCK-oh-lee-nuh): From the Basque region in Spain, this is typically a tart, herbal refreshing white, with a tiny bit of spritz. There are red and rose versions available, too. Many versions have slightly lower alcohol, making them perfect for patio sipping, paired with some Spanish cheese, olives and nuts.

Conrad Hunter of Foxcroft Wine Co., 7824 Fairview Road, was an early fan, and he always has a fun bottle or two on hand in the summer. Try Ameztoi Txakoli Getansiko Txakolina ($18.99), or (if there’s any left) a very hip rose from the same producer, Rubentis.

Gruner Veltliner (Grew-ner Velt-LEEN-er): This refreshing Austrian white is a nice alternative for sauvignon blanc lovers. Very zesty acidity with a slightly spicy, peppery finish, it pairs beautifully with salads and it’s amazing with grilled vegetables of any variety. It’s a personal favorite of mine with lemony grilled artichokes. The hip wine crowd just calls this Gru-Vee for short.

Zweigelt (TSVYE-gelt): Wines made from the Zweigelt grape are pretty, with ripe cherry and raspberry flavors and soft tannins. It’s the little kick of crisp acidity, though, that makes them excellent for summer drinking, when a refreshing red with a lively lift is perfect. This is a fun wine with all kinds of food, but it’s particularly good with pizza. My mission this summer is to perfect pizza on the grill. This wine has been great with all early experiments.

Picpoul (pick-pool): Medium body with lemony flavor and bright acidity, this fun-to-drink wine is a winner with oysters or clams. Made in France, it’s often part of a blend, but single varietal bottlings have become popular for summer. The name means “lip stinger,” a reference to the tart, citrus quality.

Negroamoro (NEH-groh-ah-MAH-roh): This grape is used in wines from Salice Salentino, in the Puglia region of Italy, where it makes a robust, earthy wine with an attractive, slightly bitter finish. This works well with something smoky, likes ribs or burgers, and the earthy quality of the wine adds complexity to the pairing.

If you’re still struggling to pronounce them, you can hear them at But however you say them, these wines are just fun to drink, and easy to love. And you can always just point at the bottle.

Catherine Rabb is co-owner of Fenwick’s and a senior instructor at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte. Email: