Summer is barbecue season, and beer is the fortified beverage of choice. But what's a person to do if he or she prefers a glass of wine? It's something of a dilemma--beyond fish, the food that comes off the grill typically goes best with a glass of red. Unfortunately, the summer heat makes most red wines unappealing--but there are exceptions. Look for lighter, fruit-driven wines, ones that can be served slightly chilled. The three that topped the latest tasting are classic examples of good summer reds.
2009 Dupeuble Beaujolais, $14.99
In Beaujolais, located in the south of France's Burgundy region, the gamay noir grape rules, producing a fruit-driven wine that's both light and lovely. This wine opens with bright red fruit aromas backed by subtle rose petal, smoke and earth. Ripe cherry fruit flavors are matched by soft, food-friendly acidity, making this wine a great choice for your backyard barbecue.
2007 Starry Night Zinfandel, Sonoma, $17.99
What could be a better match for the all-American barbecue than this all-American grape? Unfortunately, the modern trend for zin has been toward big, jammy, high-alcohol wines better suited for sipping in front of a winter fireplace. Happily, this wine has all the smooth blueberry and dark cherry fruit that makes zin so appealing, but with the light touch and balance that is too often missing. Open a bottle of this and light up the grill.
2009 Valdelana Tempranillo, $8.99
This tempranillo from the Rioja region of Spain is blended with 5 percent viura, a white wine grape. Classified as a joven or young wine, it's a style that emphasizes fresh fruit flavors. The Valdelana offers lots of sweet and spicy fruit on the nose with a touch of vanilla. Soft and round in the mouth, the palate is all supple cherry fruit. This is a definite bargain.