* 1996 Petit Bourgeois Sauvignon Blanc, Henri Bourgeois, Vin de Pays du Jardin de la France ($8.49). A poor man's Sancerre, this snappy, bone-dry Loire wine offers racy acidity and well-delineated flavors of smoke, herbs and juniper. Like most Loire sauvignon blancs, it has a bite that really demands that it be served with food -- either a vegetable dish or light seafood.
* 1996 Glenora Riesling, Finger Lakes ($8.49). This spicy, apple-y dry riesling is one of the most Germanic wines produced outside Germany. Its taut structure and crisp elegance make it a food-friendly wine, but it's equally suitable for casual sipping.
* 1995 Il Palagio Vernaccia de San Gimignano ($9.99). Even expensive Italian wines rarely score high with me, but this crisp, bone-dry, lemony Vernaccia has a crystalline elegance that is rare in a budget-priced wine. This wine was born to serve with shellfish, but use it up before the end of 1997.
* 1996 Meridian Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc ($7.99). This crisp, smoky, dry wine offers some bright fig and peach flavors that suggest a fine match with spicy Asian dishes.
* 1996 Selbach Bernkasteler Kurfurstlay Riesling, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer ($6.99). This textbook-dry Mosel riesling, imported by German wine specialist Terry Theise, is impeccably structured and offers snappy, apple-y, wet-stone flavors. Kurfurstlay is not one of the more prestigious vineyard names, but many German wines from more famous vineyards fall well short of this standard. Serve with lighter fish varieties or just sip as an aperitif.
Pub Date: 9/28/97