Garden in a glass


Here’s the rant part: If only more restaurant winelists would acknowledge there’s more to white wine drinking than chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and pinot grigio (the most boring of all, IMO).

On my way to Stonington, CT, for a family occasion, I stopped at the Philly airport Vino Volo–what an unexpected treat. There, easily drinkable in one flight, were three out-of-the-box whites, two of them bursting with garden-y scents.

First, a crisp, lime-redolent Portuguese vinho verde; second, a jasmine-scented Italian Falanghina; third, a Chilean gewurtztraminer so floral I couldn’t even sort out the components.

I might have to do my drinking at airports from now on.

Speaking of done right, this is the time for the PeeGee hydrangea in the NE. The oakleaves and macrophyllas are fading, but in Connecticut (and elsewhere) the PG is king.

Garden in a glass

Garden in a glass

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. I’ve always liked the more floral/fruity/sweet whites–chardonnay is torture for me unless it’s a Puligny Montrachet “Les Folatieres”. I’ve been starting to enjoy some sauv. blancs, but pinot grigio (and other green wines) are better for my husband’s taste buds than mine. Save me from the chard of my youth: chenin blanc and chablis!

    I will bore you if I try to tell you what I like in gewurztraminer, reisling, and all the varieties of muscat/moscato/muscatel, dinner or dessert versions. The only grapes I’d consider trying to grow for eating would be a muscat or three (blame Andrew Quady and some farmers), and maybe gewurztraminer, as I’ve never had a chance to munch one. I love the Black Corinth aka those tiny champagne grapes, but I’m told they mildew like crazy.

    I will have to find a bottle of Falanghina, as I have never even heard of it.

    At this point, I can’t remember whether I tried to get my MiL a PeeWee for Mother’s Day–too many things planted this spring didn’t survive because there was little or no water getting to them, which means a hired gardener who doesn’t automatically check or, or assume the need for more, drip lines/emitters, is going to be replaced.

  2. Regarding wine, I pretty much exclusively drink sweet/semi-sweet whites. I don’t care for reds for two reasons: my taste buds seem to perceive them as vinegar and way too dry, and the sulfites make it an unpleasant experience. I like free breathing. I know that there are more sulfites in whites (and they can bother me as well), but my sensitivity is greater when it comes to reds. You could just say that I’m a sweet girl!

    Last November we were down at Biltmore, and they had some oakleafs with insanely beautiful leaf color – I want one for my own. Would have gotten one this year, except for the whole summer- without-a-drop-of-rain thing. Now that we’ve finally started getting rain, maybe I’ll look for an end of season deal.

  3. Neanderthal when it comes to wine- I want a grape arbor for good old Concord grapes for jam and pie(labor intensive but oh so good) and spouse makes a sweet wine from a variety of fruit (what ever I pick and don’t use for more important pies and jam) that true aficiandos would turn their noses up at but is well liked by the rest of the wine ignorant people. Oh and the standard Peegee Hygrangia is stupendus looking now, but I am going to have to cut armloads to bring in the house before the branches break. Darn.

  4. Yeah! What she said! Especially as I am allergic to Chardonnay – effects me like the worst hangover ever, before I finish one glass. There’s a really good sparkling Cab Franc out there now too; I don’t need a stinkin’ Chard Champagne.

  5. Well, I do love a good Chardonnay but not to the exclusion of trying something new. These look delicious and your recommendation will add them to the list of wines to try. As for the Pee Gees, love them. Love all of them.

  6. Many restaurants allow their wine reps to build their lists, which means only wines they sell are on it. If you are a regular at a restaurant, let them know what kind of wines you enjoy, and I bet money they will seek some out. You might even suggest some wine producers you like.

    Susan, it might not be the sulfites causing your pain, since you seem to be able to tolerate the whites. It might be the naturally-occurring histamines, or any of a number of other elements that occur in red wines.

    Here’s a few other suggestions for whites that can be found fairly easily these days: viognier, trebbiano, and semillon. Happy hunting!

    Those hydrangeas are beautiful!

  7. Anne, I completely agree about the histamines. They are usually the culprit–not sulfites. It is almost like goldenrod getting blamed for ragweed. With a histamine prob, an allergy OTC med can help. Some of my friends use that strategy.

    I also love the white Rhone varietals. Viognier is great. And there is a sparkling of it.

  8. Vino Verde is good summertime wine but sometimes hard to find esp if you live in smaller cities (or always the same ones)
    They are exclusively (I think) to Portugal which makes tracking down a big easier.

  9. Anne and Eliz, thanks for the insight on the histamines – I just today found that out from our friend who owns the local wine/liquor store. He recommended that immediately before I imbibe, I take an allergy pill. I will do that – but I still don’t care for the taste of most reds. There are few good sweet reds here in the Finger Lakes, and our Rieslings are amazing. I have tried the viogniers, and like them very much.

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