Though Cabernet Sauvignon is always going to be a standard go-to wine for Texans, here are a few lighter options to enjoy now through the fall. (Some selections were sent for editorial consideration.)
Italy’s Alto Adige also produces a juicy, food-friendly, easy red similar to the Gamay variety called Schiava or Trollinger. Filled with fresh roses, strawberry, and cotton candy, Schiava thrives in the high elevation region in Italy’s Dolomite Mountains, producing easy drinking and often lower alcohol reds—perfect this time of year. Favorites include Nals Margried and Elena Walch. (Both available at Jimmy’s for around $20.)
South of Alto Adige, in the central part of Italy, Polizano crafts an earthy Rosso di Montepulciano ($20, wine.com) with red berry, menthol, and crushed stone.
The naturally high acidity of Barbera ensures a wine that is fresh, clean, and approachable. Prunotto Barbera d’Asti Costamiole ($45, Pogo’s) balances softness with structure, for a focused wine filled with soft herb and fruit.
From Campania, Feudi Di San Gregorio Rubrato Aglianico ($20, Central Market) is easy and fresh, with layers of wild strawberry and cherry, melding with red licorice and a hint of savory balsamic for a food-friendly Italian wine.
Beaujolais is the ideal summer red, especially the high-quality cru wines from areas like Morgan, Fluerie and Brouilly, highlighting the mineral character of the region with the inherent fruitiness of Gamay. Jean Foillard Morgon Côte du Py ($48, Pogo’s) layers fresh wildflower and blackberry.
Rhone, and Rhone-style reds, filled with Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, and Mourvedre can be the perfect wine for summer if the blend is balanced and well-made. Celebrating the 2015 vintage, when everything in the vineyards of the Rhone aligned perfectly to produce exceptional wine, E Guigal Crozes-Hermitage ($30, Goody-Goody) highlights the freshness found when acidity remains in fruit that is also quite juicy and ripe. Balanced and lively, the 100% Syrah wine is perfect for sipping from summer well into fall.
Australia’s cherished Clarendon Vineyard in McLaren Vale produces some of the most prized wine in the country for Hickinbotham Brook’s Road Shiraz ($75, wine.com). Planted in 1971, the vineyard produces concentrated fruit with character, revealing orange peel, vanilla, toasted spice, and dark chocolate with smooth tannins.
Texas produces several Rhone-style blends that stand out, including McPherson Cellars Tre Colore ($20, Total Wine), layering strawberry, raspberry and tangerine notes, along with Pedernales Cellars GSM Melange ($35, Pogo’s), bringing in more of the earth and spice in the wine.
Cabernet Franc shines as the dominant variety in Tuscany’s Arcanum ($75, wine.com) with wild rose and ripe red fruit when young, but when aged the wine takes on the earthiness of the rolling Tuscan hillsides their fruit thrives in with black fruit, anise, and a forest floor quality that makes it ideal for pairing with roasted pork dishes.
Slightly more robust, Napa Valley’s Gamble Family Paramount ($90, via their website) creates a classic Bordeaux blend of equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc with Merlot and Petit Verdot for a red berry, woody herb, and earthy truffle-filled wine, ideal for your favorite grilled ribeye.
Similarly, Stags Leap District’s Clos Du Val captures the essence of the variety in their Three Graces ($170, wine.com) blending Cabernet Sauvignon with Cabernet Franc and a hint of Petit Verdot. Complex, and well integrated, with ripe blackberry, pencil lead, and tobacco.
Well made Merlot is truly a thing of beauty, and Napa produces the Bordeaux favorite as well as they do Cabernet. Stewart Cellars Merlot highlights this luscious quality with a wine filled with ripe raspberry, pomegranate, red cherry and chocolate. $40, available here.
Mission fig and plum open to black cherry and spice in a slightly heartier, but equally as approachable Duckhorn Merlot ($50, Total Wine).
Grgich Hills Merlot layers ripe plum and blueberry with subtle eucalyptus and dusty earthiness for a delicious Right Bank Bordeaux style wine.