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Wines to enjoy poolside

With the weather warming up and the first day of summer quickly approaching, I find myself looking forward to lounging poolside with a cool glass of Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. The only problem is that glass and pool don’t necessarily go together, but it is difficult to drink wine from plastic stemware.

Recently I came across some stemware that looks like and feels like crystal, yet they are unbreakable. These types of glasses are made of polycarbonate and are available in sizes designed to enhance different varietals.

If you’re a purist and have to drink from crystal, the Fusion stemware brand advertises their glasses as being break-resistant and even offers a replacement guarantee for breakage with some conditions. The Fusion glasses are made out of crystal that is fused with magnesium to make them durable. While the Fusion glasses are more expensive than the polycarbonates, they can used in many different settings and occasions.

Now about some wine. The 2008 Cupcake Vineyards Chardonnay from California’s central coast region is a bargain at $10 a bottle. This wine was quite soft and somewhat buttery, with hints of citrus and it paired nicely with grilled tuna.

Cupcake Vineyards also produces a Sauvignon Blanc with grapes from the Marlborough valley of New Zealand. Their 2009 offering is vibrant with the flavor of lemon — almost tasting like a lemon pound cake and with hints of key lime. This wine, which also retails for $10, was refreshing on the palate and definitely will be nice poolside on that hot summer day.

Franciscan Estate is located in the heart of Napa Valley and was once owned by Raymond Duncan and Justin Meyer, the co-founders of Silver Oak Cellars, which produces some of the most renowned Cabernet Sauvignon wines. In addition to Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, Franciscan Estate also produces Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon along with a couple of higher priced proprietary labels — Magnificat and Cuvee Sauvage.

The 2008 Franciscan Chardonnay is made exclusively with Napa Valley grapes and retails for approximately $15 a bottle. I found this wine to appear straw yellow in color and to have the aroma of buttery toast, along with the flavor of apple with hints of peach. This Chardonnay was well balanced with a nice finish and paired well with seared scallops and rosemary roasted potatoes.

Franciscan’s 2008 Sauvignon Blanc was also produced using 100 percent Napa Valley fruit and retails for $16. This Sauvignon Blanc was delightful, with bright, citrus flavors, followed by grapefruit on the finish. I drank this wine without food, but it would complement grilled fish.

Each of these wines was refreshing to drink chilled while outside on a warm afternoon. Even though you’re outside, it is still important to choose the proper wine glass for the varietal that you are drinking in order to enhance the tasting experience.

Jim Rawe, a family attorney in Bradenton, is an avid collector of fine wines. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at