June 29, 2011 at 8:27 AM ET
Stocking up on burgers, chips, watermelon, ribs and desserts can get expensive. Save dough while drinking well with these quality sips of all sorts.
Begin the celebration with two of the country’s most popular drinks – beer and margaritas – then move to vinous pleasures in red, white and pink. Since a bottle of wine serves about five glasses, all of these unique picks price out at $3 or less a drink.
Oskar Blues Brewery Dale's Rocky Mountain Pale Ale Colorado, USA ($9 per six pack)
Kick off the holiday weekend with a beer adorned in patriotic red, white and blue. This award-winning, craft-brew-in-a-can has
started its own revolution of quality. Made with four different kinds of hops, which give tangy complexity, Dale’s is a full-flavored, unapologetically American drink. It’s the best canned beer I’ve ever imbibed.
Tres Agaves Blanco Tequila ($28) PLUS Tres Agaves Agave Nectar ($10), Jalisco, Mexico
The Margarita is arguably America’s favorite cocktail. What better time to perfect your recipe than during this weekend’s outdoor festivities? Look no further than Tres Agaves. I adore the simplicity and taste of their agave combo: Mix 2 shots super-smooth Tres silver tequila with 1 shot freshly squeezed lime juice and 1 shot of their Agave Nectar -- a natural sweetener used by pros. Add ice, shake and enjoy. Together these bottles make about 12 to 14 margaritas.
2010 Dry Creek Vineyard Fume Blanc, Sonoma County, California $12
Dry Creek’s Sauvignon Blanc (that’s the grape its made from – Fume is sort of a nickname) is the quintessential California bottling at a delicious price. First produced almost 40 years ago by vintner Dave Stare, this zesty, citrusy white is an ideal pick for grilled asparagus draped with vinaigrette.
2010 Pacific Rim Sweet Riesling, Columbia Valley, Washington $10
Known for their “Riesling rules” mantra, Pacific Rim makes versions from dry to sweet. An ode to its affinity with fiery fare, this peach-scented white sports a Chinese dragon on the label. When Cajun shrimp or blackened catfish meet the palate-pleasing Riesling, sparks fly. Make sure it’s well chilled to tame the sweetness.
2010 Clayhouse Adobe Pink Central Coast, California $14
A sassy pink with attitude, this is a wine I buy by the case for summer sipping. Made in a white wine style from red grapes like Mourvedre and Syrah, it pairs with dishes from fish to fowl and beyond. Try with a Portobello mushroom, avocado and goat cheese sandwich drizzled with balsamic vinegar for a gourmet taste treat.
2010 Valley of the Moon Rosato di Sangiovese, Sonoma County, California $15
Crafted from the Italian grape Sangiovese grown in sunny Sonoma, this dry pink has power. Pair the garnet-hued rose with flank steak off the grill or tender ribs slathered in barbeque sauce. The bright kick of tomato-based sauces brings out the vibrancy of the wine helping to foil the dish’s richness.
2009 Cameron Hughes Lot 203 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, California $15
Cameron Hughes has a cult following even though his wines are the antitheses of expensive. It’s because as a negociant he sources top quality juice from some of the best places in the world and passes the savings onto consumers. This elegant, spicy Pinot hailing from the famous Russian River Valley is a steal of a deal. Sip alongside grilled salmon and toast our founding fathers.
2009 Colby Red, California $12
Want to drink well and do good in the same glass? Reach for the heart-warming Colby Red. A mélange of grapes like Zinfandel, Syrah and Petite Sirah, it offers delicious drinking. The story, though, is what brings you back for more. After renowned winemaker Daryl Groom’s 13 year-old son Colby survived two open heart surgeries he wanted to raise money for cardiac research, he and his dad started this brand and have given over $100,000 to support heart health.
Leslie Sbrocco is the author of "The Simple & Savvy Wine Guide" and founder of ThirstyGirl.com.