Don’t be swayed by the unofficial rule that hearty reds don’t work in warmer months. If a so-called winter bottle has balance and decent acid (which is what makes your mouth water), there’s no reason you can’t enjoy it year round.
Chateau Tanunda 2010 Noble Baron Shiraz (Barossa Valley)
There’s a reason visitors to Chateau Tanunda drink this 100% Shiraz while picnicking on the winery’s croquet lawn—it works well in the heat. It has luscious, fruit-driven flavors of black cherry and blackberry, with hints of mint and anise, backed up by soft tannins and a vein of mouth-cleansing acidity. It’s terrific with spicy seafood.
Terrazas de los Andes 2010 Single Vineyard Las Compuertas Malbec (Luján de Cuyo)
No one does asado better than the Argentines, so when you fire up the grill, be sure to have a few bottles of this single-vineyard Malbec on hand. Intense flavors of raspberry, cherry, rose petal and herbs give way to a bright, fruit-filled finish. Its chewy tannins are exactly what you want with your charbroiled chow.
St. Francis 2010 Zinfandel (Sonoma Valley)
This easy-drinking red is rich in cassis, anisette, mocha and freshly ground pepper flavors. And while Zinfandel is a barbecue staple, it’s also the perfect foil for salads that have a little kick, like those with arugula or mustard greens. Raw tomato-based dishes, like bruschetta, match well with this Zin, too.
Artadi 2010 Viñas de Gain (Rioja)
A clean, modern-style pour, this Tempranillo packs flavors of ripe berries, especially red cherry and blueberry, with touches of Mediterranean herbs. There’s a delicious note of salty caramel corn on the long finish, which makes it the ideal wine to enjoy when you’re gathered around a beach bonfire.
Val delle Rose 2010 Riserva (Morellino di Scansano)
Made from 90% Sangiovese, this wine hails from Scansano, a hilltop village with Mediterranean views in coastal Tuscany. A year of barrel aging adds spicy toasted notes, but juicy flavors of raspberry sorbet and cherry—with hints of Chinese five-spice powder—power through to the rewarding, bright finish. This bottle is best for midweek Chinese or Korean takeout.
Louis Bernard 2010 Domaine la Crau des Papes (Châteauneuf-du-Pape)
Bursting with bold flavors of plum and cranberry, this Grenache-based stunner from the southern Rhône Valley has it all: Ample mouthfeel, velvety tannins and a clean, bright finish. While it’s good all by its lonesome, don’t be afraid to break it out during your morning brunches on the patio.
No matter the season, a warm bottle of red will cool anyone’s mood. To ensure a perfect pour, chill your reds for a few minutes (most are best between 60 and 65˚F). And if the label says to serve at “room temperature,” remember, that’s technically between 68 and 72˚F—not 80˚F.