The Best Light Red Wines for Grilling Season

Light, bright, and super chuggable bottles for patios, BBQs, and beyond.

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Andrew Thomas Lee for Martha Stoumen

When you think of summer beverages, your mind probably drifts to summer water rosés, crisp ciders, and crush-it-quick beers.

But don’t underestimate summer reds.

These bottles aren’t big or bold. They’re ultra-fresh and best served chilled, making them the perfect drink for low-effort summer scenarios.

Andrew Thomas Lee for Martha Stoumen

Call these bottles what you will; crushable, low-effort, patio slamming vin de soifs best sipped quickly and in the sun. At under $30 a bottle, you’ll have no cares about cracking open a second or third. 

Here are the best light red wines to get you through those summer nights.

Pato & Wouters Dinâmica D.N.M.C. Baga 2019

This wine by husband-and-wife duo William Wouters and Filipa Pato is an absolute delight. Light, zippy, fresh, and vibrant with enough tannins and structure to ease you all the way into fall, and really, any time of the year.

It’s a charming intro to Baga, an acid-driven, aromatic local grape that grows almost exclusively in the coastal, limestone-driven region of Bairrada, Portugal. $18

Poderi Cellario E’Grino 

Your typical reds from Piedmont are serious, cellar-worthy, and often incredibly expensive—think the Barolos and Barberas of the world. 

Consider Cellario Poderi’s low-effort reds anything but Made with grignolino, a native Piedmont grape with bright acid and red fruit flavors, E’Grino is tart, vibrant, slightly bubbly, and super easy-drinking. Plus, the litre-sized bottle will keep on giving. $19

Martha Stoumen Mendocino Benchlands

Martha Stoumen has become a one-woman bannerman for the California natural wine movement, turning out utterly delicious, fresh wines that will make you reconsider Cali reds.

She spent time cutting her teeth at the famed COS vineyard in Sicily, where she learned to make lyrical expressions of Italian varietals. That skill shines through in her Mendocino Benchlands—she blends petite sirah, zinfandel, and nero d’avola to make a playful, magenta-hued version of grown-up Hawaiian Punch. It’s tart, bright, and joyous. Stoumen dubs it “our pool sipper, sun kisser, and skinny dipper.” $30

The Marigny Carbonic Maceration Pinot Noir

Founded by New Orleans-bred musician-turned winemaker Andrew Reginald Young, The Marigny (named after the NOLA neighborhood) crafts complex Carbonic-maceration wines out of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. 

In his take on pinot noir, Young manages to meld together the breeziness of Beaujolais nouveau with the cheeky fruit of your favorite childhood candies. It’s juicy and lush—like sparkling raspberry juice for adults with nuanced notes of rhubarb, blood orange and leather that will balance out your beefy BBQ. $33

Ampeleia ‘Unilitro’ Rosso Toscano

This Tuscan-made bottle is softly tannic, chillable, low-alcohol, and easy-drinking. Made from a very Mediterranean blend of alicante (or grenache), carignan, mourvedre, sangiovese and alicante bouschet harvested right from the shores, this lovely young wine also has those herbaceous, savory, olive briney-notes you want from a versatile food wine. A Tuscan happy hour in a bottle. $21

Frank Cornilessen Susucaru

Natural wine fans fawn over Frank Cornilessen’s minimalist, terroir-focused wines. The Belgian-born winemaker farms over 19 hectares of vines high up on the slopes of Sicily’s Mount Etna, an active volcano that towers over the island. 

His Susucaru is vibrant, light, complex, and fresh with wild floral tones and strawberry notes—the hype cannot be avoided. Each vintage ebbs and flows depending on what’s good that year, but expect a blend of malvasia and insolia, plus a dose of Sicilian red grape nerello mascalese. 

When poured a glass, Action Bronson once declared, “I been waiting for this Susucaru all my life. I love this one. I was like a little fuckin’ kid, like my mom just bought the NBA Jam Tournament Edition.” $29

Casa Belfi Raboso

Lambrusco, who? This bubbly bottle from Maurizio Donadi up in the Veneto region of Italy is made with the Raboso grape (which translates to ‘fiery’ in Italian). Made in the traditional Italian ‘pet nat’ style, expect bright red fruit, little bit of vegative funk, and tight, fizzy, tannic bubbles. It’s lively and energetic—think party wine. $26

Monte Rio Cellars Pinkette

While not technically a wine, Piquette can be billed as the ultimate park drink. The process dates back to Roman times, when winery workers would referment the leftover grape pomace after the winemaking process to make low-alcohol, high-fun wine-drink perfect for sessionable, seasonal drinking. Monte Rio Cellars makes one of the most exciting options available with a blend of gamay, trousseau noir, and trousseau gris from California. $20

Cacique Maravilla Pipeno

Pipeño is a super quaffable Chilean specialty often preferred by farmers; it’s drunk young and goes down easy after a hot day in the vineyards. Made from the País (or Mission) grape it’s lively with crisp acidity, with wild strawberries, a lush herbaceousness and a touch of smoke. It goes down so quickly you’ll be glad you have a litre. $19

Iruai Shasta Cascade Red

Iruai makes wines that draw inspiration from the famed French Alpine regions of Jura and Savoie and California-fies them. Expect old school-style and complexity with a golden coast flare; bleding trousseau for tang, mondeuse for black fruit, and blaufrankisch for that bitter kick and tannic bite. Floral, fun, and plays well with BBQ staples. $28

Monte Zovo Sa’ Solin Ripasso Valpolicella

This please-everyone-at-the-party red comes from the hills of Valpolicella high above Verona. Made by Diego and Annabella Cottini in the ripasso style, expect fleshy plum notes and silky tannins. $19

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