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Wine expert Leslie Sbrocco shares her picks for the best summer wines, including rosés, light and crisp wines that are perfect for the beach, wines that are perfect for cookouts and some all American wines for the Fourth of July. Bonus: Some of these wines cost well under $20 per bottle, so you can add them to this list of the best affordable summer wines. Cheers to summer sipping!
Rosé All Day
Americans have truly discovered the joy of rosé. Drinking pink is one of the hottest trends in wine, with double-digit growth. These garnet-hued beauties can be made in myriad styles, resulting in wines with a whisper of color to ones that are more intensely pink. Most rosés are dry and crisp, while blush wines and those dubbed ‘white’ (as in white zinfandel) tend to be sweeter. With flavors ranging from delicate strawberry and citrus to juicy red berry and spice, there’s a pink for everyone to drink.
Packaged in a curvaceous, sexy bottle, this classic rosé hails from southern France’s Provence area. One of the top producers in the region with a rich history dating to the 19th century, Chateau Minuty is known for elegance, quality and class. A pale-hued pink with floral aromas and peachy flavors, the ‘M’ is a marvelous summer sip.
2016 Forty Ounce Rosé, France, $16 (one liter)
A bang-for-your-buck bottling, this Gamay-based wine captures the essence of a sunny day in the French countryside, but with an American twist. New York-based sommelier Patrick Cappiello joined forces with French vintner Julien Braud to create this light-hearted pink that’s high on tongue-in-cheek style.
A collaboration of Yes Way Rosé and Winc, the Summer Water is an easy-drinking pink that says it all with the name. I prefer to drink rosé rather than water on most summer afternoons anyway, and this wine pairs with dishes from grilled salmon to fruit salads. (If you join their wine club, the price goes to $15.)
Who said rosé can’t be a serious sipper? This one most certainly is. Primarily Grenache grapes blended with other Rhone varieties such as Mourvèdre and Syrah, it’s an aromatic, mineral-laden pink. Though Californian in birth, Tablas Creek is French at heart with the famed Perrin family of Chateau de Beaucastel involved.
Beach Bound or Poolside?
These selections are lower in alcohol than other wines, offering quaffable fun in the sun.
Barefoot White Wine Spritzer, California, $9 (four pack)
Barefoot Wine is among the top selling wine brands in the world. The reason? Good wine at great prices wrapped in a feel-good vibe. Everyone wants to dump the shoes and walk barefoot in the sand. Now, you can do it with can in hand. This slightly fizzy tin-of-fun is a blend of Chenin Blanc and Symphony grapes topped with carbonated water, making it an ideal beach companion.
La Grande Courtâge Rosé and Brut, Sparkling Wine, France, $7 (per 187 ml)
Want to upscale your outdoor imbibing? Reach for a mini from La Grande Courtâge. A French sparkler made by a Californian, Tawnya Falkner, the brand is an ode to the marriage of French and American culture. It’s a unique option for those wanting to indulge al fresco. Just add a straw, then sit back and relax.
Eppa Red Sangria, California $10
Ringing in at a mere 9 percent alcohol, this super-Sangria is organically-grown red wine blended with organic juices including pomegranate, blueberry, and blood orange. The refreshing red is ideal over ice with sliced fruit. Enjoy a pitcher poolside and let summer begin.
Global Grilling with Latin Flair
From Spain to South America, these selections bring a little heat to dishes hot off the grill. There are no rules when it comes to pairing white wine with fish and red with meat, but if a spicy shrimp platter or Cajun-rubbed chicken breast is on the menu, reach for one of the following two mouthwatering coastal whites to tame the fire. When barbecue ribs or perfectly-seared rib eye is served, think of the latter two spicy reds to pair alongside.
A classic pairing with fiery fare is Sauvignon Blanc. This citrus-scented version is made from grapes grown in cool-climate vineyards on Chile’s Pacific Coast. Made by the talented hands of Rodrigo Soto — one of the country’s acclaimed winemakers — the Ritual is a winner for not only warm-weather sipping, but year ‘round imbibing.
2015 Fillaboa Albariño, Rías Baixas, Spain $18
For an exotic take on crisp whites, head to Spain’s west coast to sample Albariño. An Iberian Peninsula grape variety, it explodes with orange blossom aromas and succulent fruit flavors. Fillaboa is one of my top-pick producers from the area of Galicia called Spain’s “land of the sea.” Don your shades and take a virtual vacation in a glass.
Made high in the Andes by noted French winemaker Michel Rolland, this Malbec-driven blend combines Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in a full-bodied, dark-fruited red that’s supple and alluring. Still sporting elegance, however, it’s an ideal match for steak, steak and more steak.
Want to splurge on your next grilling red? Reach for this exceptional bottling from Arinzano. Noted as one of the top estates — or Pagos — in Spain, La Casona is made with the signature red grape Tempranillo rounded out with Merlot. A lush, age-worthy red, it’s a wine to drink with anything…or nothing at all.
Summer Holiday Celebrations, American-Style
From July 4th to Labor Day, these American wines with a story to tell are ones to share with a crowd.
With the smashing success of Broadway’s "Hamilton," it’s no surprise there is a wine brand celebrating our founding fathers and wine’s role in American history. This oak-kissed, smooth Chardonnay showcases Lady Liberty on the label making it fab for the 4th. The price is — what else? — $17.76.
You can do good and drink well during summer gatherings with Purple Heart. A rich red blend that’s delicious to sip is one reason to buy the wine, but the other is that annual donations are made to the Purple Heart Foundation in honor of American military veterans and their families.
Wrapped in a seascape of red, white and blue, this limited-edition bottling from Chandon is a deliciously dry yet fruit-driven sparkling wine. Become part of the #chandonsquad and raise a glass. It’s a top way to toast summer. Cheers!