Food and cooking have been a part of Andrea Robinson’s life ever since she could wield a rolling pin. She studied finance and economics at undergraduate level, and was even recruited to work at New York City’s premiere investment bank, Morgan Stanley, but food was always with her. And then came the wine.
While volunteering in kitchens and working side catering gigs in Texas, Robinson stumbled upon an advertisement for a wine tasting class at a local restaurant, and as the saying goes, the rest was history. She has since worked under International Wine Center President Mary Ewing-Mulligan, MW, and learned a great deal from Kevin Zraly when she worked at Windows on the World Wine School, in addition to holding positions at Burgundy Wine Company.
Now a Master Sommelier, wine educator, and winner of not one but three James Beard Awards, Robinson remembers ditching her career as an investment banker to learn about wine, and trading the fast streets of the concrete jungle for every classic European wine region you can travel to by train.
A Eurail Pass and a hostel card led her to renowned winemaker Dr. Ernst Loosen’s estate in the Mosel, Germany. It was there where she fell for the high-acid zing of Riesling, although she jokes that “it’s almost required for a Master Sommelier to love Riesling.”
Robinson, who teaches virtual wine courses, is pleased to see more drinkers turning to high-acid wines. “They’re open and interested, and are OK with — in fact, excited about — nuance and subtlety. They don’t need wine to hit them over the head with ripeness,” she says.
Beyond being lighter, crisper, and more complex, high acid can often indicate less alcohol in the wine. Cooler climates and earlier harvesting slow down a grape’s ability to fully ripen and produce natural sugars, thus reducing the fruits’ chance of higher levels of alcohol. “It’s really great for summertime and because so many people are looking to lighten up a little bit on alcohol consumption,” Robinson says.
As more people look for ways to keep cool without all the booze, Robinson expects high-acid white wines to grow in popularity. She recommends three wines that consumers should keep in mind for the summer season.
3 high-acid white wines to try:
Vinho Verde is Portugal’s largest wine-growing region, in addition to being the name of one of the country’s most popular styles of wine. This one is produced in a northern area of the region where the soils are granite-based and intertwined with clay, slate, and sometimes schist. This wine is “a perfect introduction to the category. It’s going to give light alcohol and a tiny bit of residual sugar, which is going to come across as ripeness,” says Robinson.
Produced in Washington state’s Columbia Valley, Chateau Ste. Michelle’s collaboration with Dr. Loosen displays mouthwatering acidity, apricot, and fresh minerality. It’s an elegant wine that Robinson says “goes with everything and nothing.”
Nestled in the Alt Penedès region of Spain, about 20 miles south of Barcelona, lies the expansive, biodynamic vineyards of Gramona where hot, dry summers, and mild winters foster grapes that contribute lively, crispy, floral, and stone fruit flavors to the sparkling wine. Robinson says it’s a fantastic sparkling wine for those who have realized celebrations aren’t the only cause for bubbles. “I think it’s just great that the average person has discovered that you don’t have to wait for a special occasion or a toast for sparkling wine,” she says.