It’s time to embrace wine as the premiere beverage of summer parties and hot weather. Set the light beer and Cape Codders aside for a second, because we’re about to seriously elevate your summer drinking experience.
Keeping it light with crisp whites and easy-drinking rosés is always a good move, but even better is finding solid, everyday vino that doesn't break the bank. That way you can buy a case of the stuff for your next pool party or backyard cookout without spending a small fortune.
With that in mind, we tried a few dozen delightfully underpriced summer wines, and assembled our ten favorites under $20.
1. Racine Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
Syrupy-sweet wine on a hot summer day is miserable, so we really like Racine’s rosé. It’s a nice daytime wine, with bracing fruit flavors and a dryness that’s ideal when you’re starting to sweat. It’s in a nice sweet spot of balance that will keep everyone happy, and that’s hard to do with limited cooler space. ($18)
2. Vivanco Viura-Tempranillo Blanco-Maturana Blanca
Personally, we’re big fans of red Tempranillo. And though Vivanco has an amazing rosé, we picked this bright and citrusy white wine for its acidity and flexibility in serving. We could see this in a cooler, on a boat, or just chilling in the fridge for the right moment, regardless of what season it is. ($15 )
3. M de Minuty Rosé 2016
Minuty has a great lake house wine here with the 2016 release of M. It’s acidic and flavorful, which is the kind of flavor one-two punch you need to keep up morale during two hours of wind hitting you in the face and occasional fish-flavored spray. Maybe you enjoy boating more than we do; you’ll enjoy it even more with a bottle of this in the cooler. We sure did. ($19)
4. Ancient Peaks Sauvignon Blanc 2016
A sharp, acidic white wine with a rounded hint of stone fruit is an easy choice for a beach cooler or pool party, but we found Ancient Peak’s surprising depth to be perfect for an odd wine-drinking hour: sunrise. Maybe you’re awake with your partner on the last day of a camping trip, or just doing a little fishing before everyone else gets up, but this is the companion you should be sure not to leave behind. ($17)
5. Cigar Box “Old Vine” Malbec 2015
While we’re all about light and refreshing wines during hot summer days, it’s important to have a few bottles that will go well with burgers and other grill favorites. Cigar Box’s Malbec is dark and flavorful without being too heavy, and pairs perfectly with the best steak you’re capable of grilling. Recommended past sunset, near open flames. ($12)
6. E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Rosé
Admittedly, you’re not spending your entire summer outdoors. Maybe you bring the spoils of grilling indoors to eat, or get stuck behind windows on a rainy day. The bright flavors and fuller body of this rosé from E. Guigal are going to be just what you need to take summer indoors with you for a few hours. ($15)
7. Saved Magic Maker Rosé
We’re torn on how to drink this wine: on the one hand, Saved’s hints of peach and pineapple goes great with seafood and salty air just like they would in the tropics. On the other hand, it’s the right balance of dry and refreshing for a late night dip in a hot tub. Of course if your beach house has a hot tub, you’re all set, and might as well get a case. Show off. ($16)
8. Graffigna Centenario “G” Malbec 2015
We wanted to throw one more flavorful red wine in the mix because, as summer goes on, you’re going to have more opportunities to drink heavier wines. Maybe you’re beachfront after sunset, or around a campfire, when the night has cooled things off. Graffigna pairs well with anything grilled, though it’s hard to outdo chocolate and toasted marshmallow on pairing options. ($13)
9. Patricius Tokaj Furmint
We like Hungarian producer Patricius Tokaj’s Furmint for picnics and lawn parties. It has the flexibility to go with lots of foods (grilled meats, chicken, seafood, summer fruits and vegetables), stays in that refreshing balance of dry and fruity, and all from a wine-producing region a lot of people won’t have tried out. ($15)
10. Abbazia Moscato Rosé Dolce
In casual settings, sparkling wines usually end up wasted in mimosas, but we’re going to give this Moscato rosé a recommendation anyway. Sometimes you need a bit of sweetness, either with dessert at a pool party or to take that muggy date night in the right direction. But thanks to the price point, you can get away with mimosas the next morning without too much judgement. ($15)