We all need a few stand-by favorites—those go-to whites and rosés that you nearly always keep in the refrigerator for popping on a casual evening. These are easy drinking favorites that are easy to find, won’t break the bank, and just won’t let us down when we want a glass (or a bottle) on the patio or by the pool. They’re the wines you often call your “house wine” and buy by the case.
For me, a good warm weather wine needs to be crisp, with good fruit. I don’t want anything expensive, “hot” (with off the chart alcohol levels) or in need of age. I want something to chill in the ice bucket and drink cold. I want something that, well, tastes good when it’s warm outside. And sometimes, most important, I want, as a friend likes to say, “a drinker not a thinker.” “Thinky” wines have their place, but on the back porch before dinner isn’t it. If you’re looking for some great pre-dinner options, here are five that fit the bill.
This lovely white Burgundy is one of Drouhin’s consumer entry wines and it’s always a good choice. This year’s edition features lots of ripe fruit with green and red apple—even a hint of pineapple. This lovely, golden Chardonnay is light but has enough “oompf” to stand up to a little heat outside, provided the ice bucket is good and cold. ($20)
While we could do an entire “ode to rosé” (and still might), this particular wine is my current favorite for something that’s a step above the $10-$12 options. Sure, it’s a little more expensive, but if you appreciate good dry rosé, you’ll find a little extra money is worth it. This light pink Provence-style is actually a blend of syrah and vermentino, unusual for the area. It gives you the distinctive fruity nose you expect from these Southern French sippers, but with a little extra underpinning of depth to stand up to a snack. ($18)
2018 Emile Beyer Pinot Blanc Tradition
I’ve already noted that I’m a fan of this wine–and the winemaker–but it’s perfect for this list. Light with some fruit, Pinot Blancs are perfect for summer, and this one gives you just the right balance of fruit and acidity to make a refreshing option for an evening watching the sunset. ($18)
2018 Decoy Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc
This lovely summer wine from the Duckhorn wines family is a perfectly light Sauvignon Blanc that brings fruit and acid to the table but not so much of the passion fruit and guava notes you find in the New Zealand versions. This one is a perfect drinker with enough finesse that you know it’s a step above some of the alternatives. ($17)
2018 Angelo Negro “Angelin” Nebbiolo
The easy drinker from the Piemonte is lighter than most young Nebbiolos and perfect for sipping on the porch. Even young, this wine brings the fruit and body you want when you’re ready to enjoy a red, but minus the alcohol “heat” that you’d expect with such a young Nebbiolo. You can even give it a slight chill (we will never tell anyone you put it in the ice bucket.) ($20)
Don’t let anyone label these as simply “Porch Pounders.” It discounts how good they really can be.