20 Sublime Summer Wines Under $20
Vera Vinho Verde 2013, Portugal
Exemplifying summer in a bottle, this white wine has bright and complex citrus aromas of lime and pink grapefruit, with a slight effervescence that gives it an almost celebratory feel, says wine consultant Leslie Sbrocco, author of Wine for Women: A Guide to Pairing and Sharing
Pair with: Light dishes like ceviche or grilled vegetables ($10; cawinemerchants.com)
Ruffino Prosecco, Italy
“One of Northern Italy's most popular bubblies, this clean, crisp, and delicate fizz (made from the Glera grape variety) is just plain fun to sip,” says Sbrocco.
Pair with: Packed with juicy melon and pear flavors topped with an aromatic kick, it's a splendid sparkler for brunch buffets laden with fruit salads and ham and cheese omelets. ($15; winechateau.com)
2012 J Dusi Wines Pinot Grigio, California
This crisp wine was fermented in stainless steel to keep it fresh and light. A summer bouquet of freesia and wild flower on the nose makes you feel like running thought a bed of flowers, Sbrocco says.
Pair with: Seafood pasta, quiche or antipasti ($16; jdusi.com)
2013 Hogwash Rosé, California
“Inspired by the blush wines of Provence, the hallmarks for this refreshing style of rosé are lower levels of alcohol and versatility,” says wine educator and columnist Deborah Parker Wong, co-author of 1000 Great Everyday Wines
. Always entertaining, it has crisp acidity and lively flavors of red berries, citrus, melon, and wet stone.
Pair with: It will perk up even the most pedestrian crudité platter or bowl of salted nuts, and it also goes well with salads with berries, grilled veggies, or succulent dry-rubbed ribs. ($16; hogwashwines.com)
2012 Light Horse Pinot Noir, California
“It’s a challenge to find good value pinot noirs, but this one is well-made and well-priced,” says Sbrocco. Plus a portion of all wine sales go to the foundation assisting high-risk individuals afflicted with autism. Raise a glass and do good deeds at the same time.
Pair with: With aromas of floral and spice along with flavors of red berries and a silky texture, this is a wine you’ll want to drink any day with just about any dish. ($14; jamiesonranch.com)
Chandon Blanc de Noirs “American Summer” Limited Edition 2014, California
“This adorable mini bottle, dressed up in a summery design of red, white and blue, is perfect for sipping from a straw at the beach,” says Sbrocco. The sparkling wine inside the decorative bottle is fruit-driven but dry.
Pair with: Drink alone poolside or with spicy fare such as grilled shrimp. ($8 for 187ml; chandon.com)
LangeTwins Estate Grown 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, California
Depending upon where it’s produced, sauvignon blanc flavors can be overtly pungent or taste more like minerals than fruit, says Parker Wong. In this Lodi white, you’ll find plenty of citrus and tropical fruit thanks to the addition of the fragrant Musqué clone. “This citrus-driven sauvignon is like adding a squeeze of lemon to brighten the flavors on your plate,” she says.
Pair with: It’s a wine that appeals both as a sipper and at the table. Try it with fresh goat cheese, shellfish platter, cucumber dill yogurt salad, or rosemary chicken. ($15; langetwins.com)
2013 Apaltagua Carmenere Rosé, Central Valley, Chile
This refreshing summer sipper is ideal for almost any occasion. You can serve it poolside, beachside, or tableside, says Sbrocco. Made from carmenere, Chile's signature red grape variety, it's aromatic and juicy with succulent flavors of red berries and spice.
Pair with: Because it's dry, it works beautifully with a variety of dishes from grilled fish and spicy sausages to burritos and curried chicken. ($10; chilean-wine.com)
2011 Jim Barry “The Lodge Hill” Shiraz, Clare Valley, Australia
"If you think Aussie shiraz is only big and bold, you haven’t sipped this wine," says Sbrocco. These grapes adore growing in the cooler climate of a place called Clare Valley in South Australia. The soil, site, and sun, along with the dipping evening temperatures, combine to create wines of elegance. This beauty is sleek, spicy, and complex.
Pair with: The spicy, medium-bodied wine makes an excellent choice for backyard barbecues this summer. ($18; jimbarry.com)
2011 Hearst Ranch Winery Three Sisters Cuvee White, California
The nose of this wine is driven by apricot, violet, and white peach, like a refreshing fruit salad. This is a classic example of white wines from the Rhone Valley.
Pair with: Summery fare like fresh goat cheese, chicken salad, or a fruit tart ($20; hearstranchwinery.com)
2013 La Vieille Ferme Rosé, France
With a price tag to make you smile, this southern French blend from the famous Perrin family is an all-purpose pink, says Sbrocco. It’s a bit fuller than other dry roses, with spicy and juicy notes.
Pair with: Its full flavor makes it a perfect partner for meat hot off the grill. ($8; lavielleferme.com)
Black Box Pinot Noir, California
Revisit what you thought about boxed wines: This wine delivers quality taste at half the cost of the same-quality bottled version. Plus the mini-pak size is ideal for on-the-go summer activities, like picnics, beach days, or hikes. Fresh, fruit forward with some spice and light tannins, this pinot noir will take you through to Thanksgiving.
Pair with: This versatile grape swings both ways—it’s great with grilled pork, herb roasted chicken, or salmon. ($5 for 500ml; blackboxwines.com)
2012 Artazuri Garnacha Rosado, Navarra, Spain
This delicious rosé is one of Sbrocco’s top pink picks from Spain. Made with the freshly pressed juice of red garnacha grapes from the Navarra region, this pink is just plain fun to drink, she says. Packed with a fruit bowl of flavor from strawberry to spice, this dry-style wine with zesty acidity is an all-purpose spring and summer sipper.
Pair with: Try it with barbeque ribs, fresh from-the-garden grilled vegetables, and aromatic Thai food. ($11; foliowine.com)
2012 ONEHOPE Sauvignon Blanc, California
Sustainability is an added bonus when you’re enjoying this white made by Rob Mondavi Jr., says Parker Wong. Every bottle of this crisp, pink grapefruit and grassy-noted sauvignon blanc results in a new tree being planted by American Forests.
Pair with: Grilled salmon, oysters, and summery berry desserts ($19; onehopewine.com)
2012 Layer Cake Malbec, Argentina
“Argentina’s success with malbec, a grape that’s originally from the Cahors region in Southern France, is due in part to the ideal conditions found in Mendoza, a region that’s both protected and irrigated by the Andes Mountains,” Parker Wong explains. Deep, round, and juicy, this wine tastes of blueberry pie, black cherries, and brown spices with notes of coffee and chocolate.
Pair with: It’s a perfect companion to rich, spicy BBQ sauced-meats, empanadas, wood-fired pizzas, or grilled pepper- and onion-smothered flank steak, says Parker Wong. ($16; layercakewines.com)
RELATED: 12 Surprising Foods to Grill
2013 Saved “Magic Maker” Rosé, California
A refreshing and dry wine, Saved is a unique collaboration between two artists, famed tattooist Scott Campbell and second-generation winemaker Clay Brock. The label, designed by Campbell, was inspired by his longstanding interest in symbolism and screen-printed directly onto the bottle.
Pair with: Fish, grilled vegetables, roasted Brussels sprouts, or pizza ($15; savedwines.com)
2013 Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay, New Zealand
If you think you’re not a chardonnay aficionado, this is a perfect varietal to try—it’s not hiding behind any oak. It’s a crisp, well-rounded choice that tastes ripe and fruit-driven, with flavors of grape, stone fruit, and pear.
Pair with: Grilled salmon or chicken ($18; kimcrawfordwines.com)
2011 Dreaming Tree Crush Red Wine, California
Owned by musician Dave Matthews and veteran winemaker Steve Reeder, Dreaming Tree is a Sonoma-based winery. This wine is a tasty blend of the North Coast’s finest varieties, pulling you in with a smoky berry note and ending with a raspberry jam.
Pair with: This quaffable wine goes with Spanish orange and onion salad or grilled ribs. ($15; dreamingtreewines.com)
2013 Wolffer Estate Rosé, New York
This classic rose perfectly captures the sun and the cool sea breeze of summer in the Hamptons. It has vibrant aromas of crisp apples, kiwi, cantaloupe, and fresh mint.
Pair with: Served chilled, this lively wine is the perfect aperitif. It goes especially well with hors d'oeuvres such as smoked salmon, lobster, shrimp, marinated meat, and soft cheeses. ($17; wolffer.com)
2010 Thymiopoulos "Young Vines" Xinomavro, Greece
Greek wines are hot these days, says Sbrocco. Pronounced "zee-know-mavro," this deliciously exotic red is full of juicy red berry flavors with a kick of black pepper spiciness.
Pair with: Barbeque ribs or grilled portabella mushrooms for a quick trip to Greece ($18; atheneeimporters.com for retailers)