At least a couple evenings each week, we grill dinner. Sure it’s hot outside, but I’d rather keep the heat from cooking outside than in. Plus, the kids are usually in the pool and can come up for air long enough to down a burger or brat. I feel like I’m feeding the sea lions at Sea World.
Anyhow, while they keep themselves entertained, I’m usually doing the same – in the form of a cocktail, beer or chilled wine. Yes, chilled wine. Or better still, pour it over ice. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone. And if your friends scoff at vino on the rocks, find new ones.
Here’s a few recent finds that stand up to the heat. All are widely available at local retailers such as Basha’s, Fry’s Food Stores, Safeway, Albertsons, BevMo and Total Wine & More. Cheers!
• Camelot NV Merlot, California. I make sangria out of this stuff all the time, but you can also just as easily serve it on ice, or perhaps with a splash of sparkling water. It’s refreshing, easy to drink and affordable at just $7. It’s fruity, friendly and uncomplicated. Spend the money on upgraded ground beef for burgers.
• Piccini Chianti DOCG 2011, Italy. Another solid value proposition at $9. Primarily Sangiovese-based, the classic Chianti style screams from glass on both the nose and palate. I love the mature red fruit aromas and distinct and smooth red fruit. You can drink this wine with just about anything, and most recently I paired it with beef and veggie (mushrooms, onions, bell peppers) kabobs.
• Molnar Family Chardonnay 2011, Poseidon’s Vineyard, Carneros, Napa, California. Again, don’t shoot the messenger, but I like this wine chilled or even on the rocks. This is a big, creamy, rich and ripe Chard that even with wood aging will knock your socks off without a chill. In fact, the wood adds spice as much as it does soften this energetic wine. I usually don’t eat with Chardonnay, so just chill and enjoy poolside, while the porpoises clamor for more snacks. $21.
• Laetitia Vineyard 2011 Reserve Du Domaine Pinot Noir, Arroyo Grande, California. This stuff is grown and produced near Sideways country and I can see Miles waxing prose over this lusciously sexy Pinot Noir. “…Only the most patient and nurturing growers can … tap into Pinot’s most fragile, delicate qualities…,” he might say as he swirls and sniffs this finely made, delicious red wine. And, no, I don’t want to chill this one. Grill some pork chops or cedar-plank salmon and slow things down. $32.
• Steelhead Vineyards 2011 Sonoma County Pinot Noir, California. My Pinot Noir obsession continues with this smartly priced offering, which is fresh and vibrant with wonderful dark cherry-strawberry aromas. The cherry and strawberry also rush to your palate, showing its classic characteristics. The wine shows elegance and balance and embodies everything we love about Pinot. Yes, chill if needed and sip on its own or perhaps with a cheese course. $15.
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