The days are finally getting warmer, which means it’s time for picnicking, hiking, lounging on the beach and taking the time to enjoy the summer sun. But whatever your preferred outdoor activity, a great bottle of wine can brighten any occasion.
Don’t worry, having the perfect bottle doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg. Here are a selection of white wines, rosés, sparklers and chillable reds for under $20 that are as easy to sip as they are on the wallet.
Budget-friendly Summer Wines
August Kesseler 2017 R Kabinett Riesling (Rheingau); $19, 91 points. Crushed mineral tones mingle into pretty white florals, lemon and grapefruit in this zesty, light-bodied Kabinett. It’s elegantly off-dry in style, with sweetness balanced by piercing citrus acidity and lingering notes of slate and salt. Enjoy now through 2023. Vineyard Brands. —Anna Lee C. Iijima
De Wetshof 2018 Bon Vallon Chardonnay (Robertson); $19, 91 points. There’s a faint straw and toasted challah character in the background of this light and bright wine, with additional notes of dried apple skin, orange and lime zest, white carnation and chalky limestone. The palate is bright and nervy, with a great line of acidity that keeps the palate fresh and lifted through the mouthwatering finish. It’s well balanced and delicious, with a lingering lime zest flourish. Broadbent Selections, Inc. Editors’ Choice. —Lauren Buzzeo
Alpha Estate 2017 Turtles Vineyard Malagousia (Florina); $18, 90 points. Peach, melon and white floral aromas start this poised and pert white from northern Greece. On the palate, the wine offers lively flavors of lemon zest, peach and spice. The wine has complexity but offers a clean and elegant edge. Diamond Importers Inc. —Susan Kostrzewa
Domaine Houchart 2018 Rosé (Côtes de Provence); $14, 90 points. Always an attractive wine, this release remains as reliable in this vintage. The classic blend is full, ripe with a touch of caramel as well as raspberry flavors. Lightly textured and full of fruit, the wine is ready to drink. David Milligan Selections. Best Buy. —Roger Voss
Salcheto 2017 Obvius White (Toscana); $19, 90 points. Made with organically and sustainably cultivated Trebbiano and Vermentino, this deeply colored, earthy white wine is made with no added sulfites. It offers aromas of pressed wild flower, scorched earth, black olive, dried peach and Mediterranean scrub while the dry tangy palate delivers ripe apricot, orange rind, star anise and a salty mineral note. It’s unusual and incredibly intriguing. Massanois Imports. Editors’ Choice. —Kerin O’Keefe
Sobon Estate 2017 Barbera (Amador County); $17, 90 points. This medium-bodied wine is fresh and lively in red cherry and raspberry aromas. The palate brings tart fruit flavors and good balance. It is a vibrant and appetizing expression of the grape. Editors’ Choice. —Jim Gordon
Toad Hollow 2018 Eye of the Toad Dry Rosé of Pinot Noir (Sonoma County); $14, 90 points. This perennial favorite of a light, dry style at an unbelievably fair price overdelivers once again, showing a dry, acid-driven body of tart grapefruit, strawberry and candied cherry. Made entirely from the variety, it’s one to enjoy all day long. Best Buy. —Virginie Boone
Bouvet-Ladubay NV Brut Excellence Sparkling (Crémant de Loire); $13, 89 points. This is a ripe, nutty wine offers tastes of apple and green plum. Its perfumed flavors are given a great lift by the attractive bubbly mousse and soft texture. The aftertaste is fresh and fruity. Kobrand. Best Buy. —R.V.
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2017 Sauvignon Blanc (Columbia Valley); $11, 89 points. Aromas of pink grapefruit, tropical fruit and herb lead to broad feeling, ever so slight spritzy fruit flavors. A tart, lingering finish caps it off. Best Buy. —Sean P. Sullivan
Firesteed 2017 Pinot Gris (Willamette Valley); $16, 88 points. Round and fruity, this spot-on style pushes fresh fruit flavors of golden apple and Bosc pear into the center ring. It’s fresh and juicy, unpretentious and ready for immediate enjoyment. —Paul Gregutt
Fire Road 2016 Pinot Noir (Marlborough); $15, 87 points. This is a solidly medium-bodied wine that offers up plush rhubarb and strawberry aromas with red licorice, dried herb and a touch of wood spice. There’s plenty of fruit weight on the palate but also a good lick of acidity that keeps things lifted, accompanied by soft, dusty tannins and a tangy red berry finish. Winesellers, Ltd. —Christina Pickard