Early Mountain Vineyards Rosé ($25)
While we firmly believe that rosé season isn’t a thing (it should be enjoyed all year round!), there’s still no better way to celebrate summer than by popping a bone-dry rosé -- and pairing it with good company and an alfresco meal, of course. This light pink delight from Virginia’s wine country features acidity that brightens up its fruity flavors (strawberries and white peaches) and lingering citrus notes. You can’t go wrong with a bottle like this: the fresh profile creates perfect balance with a fattier dish like grilled salmon, and the citrus plays just as nicely with a tangy goat cheese, arugula, and grapefruit salad.
Zonin Prosecco ($12.99)
Sippin’ bubbly somehow always feels extra special, but that doesn’t mean you need to go putting your pinkies up about it -- especially not at a chill-vibe BBQ. Be celebratory without being snobby and pop some food- (and budget-) friendly Prosecco, then serve it up with grilled lobster and plastic bibs for all. Try Zonin, which is a dry, easy-drinking sparkler with pleasant fruit and almond notes that make a nice companion to the lobster meat. Its rich mousse-y texture and fine perilage (AKA, tight, sprightly bubbles) will also help bust through that buttery dipping sauce.
2015 Purple Heart Red Blend ($20)
Here’s a wine that’s fit for raising a patriotic toast on July Fourth in more ways than one. The Purple Heart Wines project is a collaboration between C. Mondavi & Family and the Purple Heart Foundation, raising money to serve the unmet needs of military men, women, and families. This inviting red blend is made up of merlot, zinfandel, petit verdot, and cabernet franc, all sourced from a small selection of choice lots in Sonoma County. In the spirit of patriotism, pair this bottle with something all-American and gamey, like lightly spiced steak kebabs or stuffed Gouda burgers; with the wine’s balanced tannins, velvety texture, and a taste of stewed fruits, black pepper, and toasted oak, you’ll be saluting the flavors combos in your mouth right along with the American flag.
Murrieta’s Well “The Whip” ($26)
Napa and Sonoma are great and all, but allow us to introduce you to the Livermore Valley, one of California’s oldest wine regions and an unsung grape-growing hero. Over 30 varietals are able to flourish in the valley with its unique climate and geography, including chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, semillon, viognier, orange muscat, and muscat canelli -- all of which join forces to create The Whip’s gorgeous aromatics and textured mouthfeel. So get crackin’ (sorry, we had to) and pair this refreshing white with spicy shrimp kabobs, Cajun-rubbed grilled chicken, or hot dogs; the wine’s crisp acidity is perfect for cutting through the fat and enhancing the chargrilled meat flavor.
Farmhouse Red ($15)
Wash down all that sweet-and-smoky BBQ sauce with this lighter-bodied red wine that won’t sit heavy (the chicken and ribs will handle that part). This red blend is up for the job, hailing from the sustainable Cline Vineyards in Sonoma, where the winemaker uses blending instead of over-oaking or manipulating to bring out the best in the fruits with each vintage. A perfect picnic table wine to match the relaxed vibe of the meal, Farmhouse Red features lush fruit flavors, black peppery notes, smooth tannins, and a medium toast from the 40% French oak-barrel aging. Pass the BBQ sauce, please.