While there’s nothing like rosé in the summer, if you’re outside enjoying wine on a warm evening, chances are there’s a grill a stone’s throw away. Hearty summer barbecue fare may mean it’s time to put down the pink and pick up a wine with a little more body, fruit and tannins. For your next picnic or cookout, shake things up with a slightly chilled, lighter style red.
Here are five styles of red wine perfect for when the grill starts to heat up, and top value selections for each.
Oregon Pinot Noir
Crafted in more of a Burgundian style than its neighboring California cohorts, these wines can be somewhat rustic and earthy, loaded with Bing cherry and cranberry. Their high acidity and complex structure make them enjoyable to pair with all sorts of seafood and lighter fare. With an overall cool and somewhat damp climate, Oregon can have notable vintage variation so be sure to check our WE vintage chart for the best years.
Le Cadeau 2016 Diversité Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley); $50, 93 points. This multi-clonal selection is lushly endowed with a bright mix of red fruit, recalling cranberry, pomegranate, raspberry and cherry. It’s annotated with orange peel highlights and orange blossom scents. The detail and subtlety are impressive. Editors’ Choice. —Paul Gregutt
Finger Lakes Blaufränkisch
If Finger Lake reds haven’t been on your radar, now is the time. While the Riesling and Chardonnay get most of the attention, this northern New York region produces high quality red varietal wines as well. While Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir are more common, Blaufränkisch is the unsung hero of the group. Exuding black fruits, earthy minerality and pleasant herbal notes, these wines are ideal for summer sipping.
Dr. Konstantin Frank 2016 Blaufränkisch (Finger Lakes); $22, 88 points. Sour cherry, bramble berry and a bit of pepper carry the nose of this wine. The medium-bodied palate is soft in feel, with juicy red cherry and strawberry flavors that meld with a floral lilt. This is enjoyable for its immediate easydrinking appeal. —Alexander Peartree
No, not Beaujolais Nouveau, which certainly has its time and place. Cru Beaujolais is arguably the finest expression of Gamay in the world. The carbonic maceration—fermenting whole cluster grapes before crush—leads to a lighter, fruit-driven, lower-tannin style of wine. When crafted from grapes in top regions such as Moulin-à-Vent, Brouilly, Morgon and Fleurie, you will find some of the most interesting wines in all of France.
Domaine des Marrans 2016 Fleurie; $21, 91 points. This is a ripe and juicy wine. Tannins support the generous layers of red-berry and cherry fruits and acidity. The wine has a succulent quality, spicy and fruity at the end. Drink from mid-2018. —Roger Voss
While you may know it as Zinfandel, Primitivo is one of the most popular varieties of the southern Italian region of Puglia. While value California Zins tend to be a bit bulky, Primitivo lean towards wild berry and black pepper notes with earthy and floral tones backed by vibrant acidity. These well-structured wines make a perfect pair for spicy barbecue ribs straight off the grill.
A Mano 2015 Imprint Primitivo (Puglia); $15, 88 points. There’s a surprising intensity to the aromas of fresh blackberries, turned earth and violets. The palate mirrors the nose in a package of grippy tannins and crisp acidity. While enjoyably straightforward in nature, the concentration is rather light, so enjoy for its immediate appeal. —A.P.
These sassy, zippy wines are brimming with delightful red cherry and red berry flavors backed by white pepper spice. Zweigelt’s high acidity helps create a wine ideal for chilling at your next summer soirée. The cool climate of many Austrian wine regions keeps these wines light and fun with immediate appeal.
Artner 2016 Klassik Zweigelt (Carnuntum); $14, 91 points. Aromatic pure cherry sends a message of pleasure and poise. This well-defined, precise and utterly fresh fruit blazes across the slender but dense palate that is outlined by freshness and verve. Purity is its virtue. Pleasure, seemingly, is its sole purpose. What a lovely, fresh and vivid wine. Best Buy. —Anne Krebiehl