In the heat of summer, many wine lovers turn to crisp refreshing whites like sauvignon blanc and riesling, or charming equally refreshing roses; but when you're pulling a juicy burger or ribeye off the grill, you need a red. A good summer red has soft tannins so it can be served slightly chilled and is fresh, fruit forward and low in alcohol—all three here are around 12 percent). With all of that in mind, here are the panel's summer-red picks:
2015 J. Lohr Wildflower Monterey Valdiguie, $8.99
Valdiguie (once called Napa Gamay, mistakenly believing it was the Gamay grape of Beaujolais) actually originated in the Languedoc region of France, but with its soft aromas of berry and cherry, it does have a lot in common with Beaujolais. Medium bodied and fruit forward, it has strawberry-rhubarb flavors backed by light chocolate, with soft acidity on the clean finish. This red is great for barbecues.
2016 Post Flirtation Red, $16.99
Crafted by talented natural winemaker Martha Stoumen, this lovely California red is a blend of 65 percent carignan/35 percent zinfandel. The intense aromas spotlight creamy berry and spicy cherry fruit. The flavors are silky smooth, offering sweet rhubarb and raspberry, with soft ripe tannins that add a little grip to the finish. It's remarkably delicious.
2015 Vignobles Bulliat Beaujolais Villages, $13.99
Made with hand-harvested, organically grown grapes, this French entry opens with bright cranberry, cocoa and Maraschino cherry aromas. It's a well-structured, nicely integrated wine with racy acidity balancing the ripe red fruit flavors. Light and lively on the palate, the velvety finish of this perfect summer red lingers on and on.