In light of the upcoming festivities all weekend long, combined with lower pandemic restrictions, I wanted to recommend a short list of tasty wines you can potentially bring to your neighborhood barbecue. Obviously, your mileage may vary on what’s available where you are, and I’ve got some pointers for dealing with that, too.
Before buying a wine, you might ask the host/hostess (if it’s not you, of course) what the main dish at the meal will be, whether lamb or charcuterie or burgers. You certainly can’t plan for everyone else, but at least a basic idea will help in your selection.
And so, without further ado, here are five killer wines that will certainly quench your thirst this weekend!
Borne of Fire Cabernet Sauvignon
Columbia Valley, Washington
Most people won’t say no to a brusque and burly Cabernet Sauvignon. Don’t be lulled into thinking this is anything like its California cousins, though.
Expect juicy, but not jammy red fruits to draw you in, followed by dried herbs and a finish of delicate smoke. Tart and with lots of tannin, pair this wine with juicy burgers or cheesy nachos loaded with pulled pork.
If you can’t find this exact wine, ask for other Cabs from the Columbia Valley. They won’t be exactly the same, but similar in overall profile.
Pricing: $16-$22 per bottle
Without going into too much detail here, the Rioja region of Spain classifies most of their reds in four categories by age — Joven, Crianza, Reserva, and Gran Reserva. If you can’t find this exact wine, go for anything in the Crianza class.
Here’s the why behind that: with a Crianza you’re still going to get lots of great fresh fruit flavors. However, the ageing for two years (with a minimum of 6 months in barrel) starts to give the wine some nice development in its complexity, but not so much that it overpowers your food or the wildly flavorful fruit for which the Tempranillo grape (the predominant grape for Rioja reds) is known.
Look for vanilla, licorice, cacao and tobacco notes alongside bright red fruits in the Cune (pronounced “koo-nay”). Pizza, chili, tacos, smoked meats, and grilled veggies would work wonderfully with the Cune Crianza, though I honestly have yet to find a bad pairing with it!
Underwood Pinot Noir
The best part about the entire Underwood series by Union Wine Co. (including their Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Rosé, Bubbles, Rosé Bubbles, Riesling Radler and Strawberry Spritz) is that it’s all available in can format. So if you have concerns about volume, picking a wine type, or bringing glass to a poolside party, look no further. At around $7-9 per can, you can choose a variety and be sure to hit a home run each time.
The bottles are obviously bigger and run a little higher in price. If you’re curious about the Underwood Pinot Noir tasting notes, you can check out my full review here.
Short version for the Pinot Noir: cherry cola, toasty, and with hints of vanilla and cinnamon. Pinot Noir has enough oomph to handle grilled chicken, robust veggies, and even turkey without breaking a sweat.
Pricing: cans $7-9 each, bottles $15-20
Von Buhl “Bone Dry” Riesling
Ever wanted the wonderfully crisp flavors of a Sprite, but without all the danged sugar? Look no further, because the wine has found you!
As the label so aptly states, this wine is BONE DRY. The winemakers have annihilated as much residual sugar as they could in this baby, which is a far, far cry from the Rieslings you normally hear about or see in stores.
In case that wasn’t clear enough — we’re not talking about a sweet Riesling, y’all.
Unfortunately, I have yet to find a runner-up in this category, so count yourself extremely fortunate if you can locate it in your area (spoilers for Colorado: we have it).
Citrusy, tangy and with almost a bubbly spritz on the palate — not bubbles per se, but pretty close — the Von Buhl will refresh and energize you alongside cheeses, grilled veggies, dips of all stripes and layers, and flatbreads.
Longbridge “The Emily” Rosé of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
Western Cape, South Africa
All the way from South Africa comes this lovely gem of a rosé, made with less than 10% Pinot Noir to give it color and additional flavor. Think white meats, fish, or even fruit with this option, since it offers bold tropical flavors of kiwi, citrus and guava. Smooth and with a nip of zest, it’s also great with cured meats and aged cheese.
Can’t find this particular option? Ask instead for a Provençal rosé from France. It’s not the same by any stretch, but it will remain food-friendly.
As a side note, the Zweigelt rosé I reviewed a while back would also do as a substitution, though the flavors range more towards berry than tropical.
Jules Taylor Sauvignon Blanc
Marlborough, New Zealand
This is another wine I’ve written about previously, but I’ll tack on some highlights here.
In this bottle you’ll find lemon, nectarine, and passionfruit, bursting with a full body and medium-plus acidity. It’s slightly grassy and has a touch of herbaceousness to ground it (haha!), so try it with seafood-based tacos, flatbreads, or salads that feature balsamic dressings.
Jules Taylor should be readily available in most major wine retailers. If it’s not, ask specifically for a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand with a tropical range of flavors.
And there we wrap my top five! Remember though — when in doubt, a Malbec is always a great go-to for grilled meats and veggies.
They just didn’t end up on this list because I felt it would be cheating…
With so many wines to choose from, I didn’t want to overwhelm the post with more than five. What would you have added to this list for summer garden parties or barbecue frenzies?
Check out the Colorado edition here!
Have a safe weekend, everyone!