It’s high summer, and the weather is perfect for light beers and our favorite fruity cocktails. But it’s also the right time to pop a crisp, refreshing bottle of wine.
We got tired of reading online “Top Summer Wine” lists of bottles you can only get in New York or California. So here are five great cheap wines to take the edge off the summer heat, and where to find them in DFW. Two picks are specific bottles, but the rest are more general recommendations of regions or grapes.
Georges Vigouroux Pigmentum Malbec Rosé: More fun with pink
Professions that require somebody you can trust: heart surgeon, hairdresser, liquor store salesman. My guy at Spec’s is Rudy Mikula, who, in 2007, was named Best Sommelier by this here publication. He tells me that Pigmentum is one of his favorite rosés, and only $10. Sold.
It’s a great freaking bottle, and for only $10, you should get like a hundred of them. And then invite me over. Made from 100 percent Malbec, Pigmentum isn’t too sweet, and a little bit tart: not too much, just right. It tastes like raspberries, watermelon and happiness. From now on I’ll do everything Rudy says. Unless he has an evil plot to conquer the world … nah, I’d help him.
Take it home: $10 at Spec’s
Out to eat: I can’t find it on local wine lists, unless my dinner parties count
Assyrtiko: Drink for a good cause
What can we do to help Greece? There are two good ways for Dallas residents to help with the debt crisis: (1) Go to Greece with a suitcase of cash and spend money like Vince Young at a Cheesecake Factory, and (2) Buy a shitload of Greek wine.
Assyrtiko is a classy dry white wine from the island of Santorini. It’s prized for combining elegance, food-friendly acidity and affordability. That’s why wine expert Hugh Johnson, in his 2015 Pocket Wine Book, calls Assyrtiko “Possibly the cheapest 4-star whites around, able to age for 20 years.” Or you could invite your friends over, serve them fish and finish a bottle in 20 minutes. We don’t judge.
Take it home: Spec’s and Total Wine have varieties ranging from $15-29
Out to eat: Try a bottle at Ziziki’s or choose between two at Oak.
Vinho verde: The definition of "gluggable"
Vinho verde is a slightly fizzy Portuguese white wine that’s a consistent thirst-quencher. Pull it out of the fridge, or drag a cooler to the pool and the gentle bubbles will have you impatient for the next gulp.
I honestly think most vinho verdes taste the same, so it’s nice that they’re cheap. Some sell for $4-5. My favorite so far, Nobilis, is a big whopping $8 at Central Market.
Take it home: Central Market, Spec’s, Total Wine and even Kroger carry bottles from $4 up
Out to eat: By the glass at Proof & Pantry, or grab a bottle at TJ’s Seafood, Max’s Wine Dive, Canary by Gorji or San Salvaje
Lucien Albrecht Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé: Bubbles!
I like Champagne. You like Champagne. Everybody likes Champagne. But few of us like paying $40 for a bottle of wine. So let’s head 180 miles east, to the Alsace, one of France’s most neglected wine regions.
Important: In wine, “neglected” does not mean “hipster.” It means “cheaper.”
Try it yourself. Instead of saving your week’s pay for Dom Pérignon, grab Lucien Albrecht’s Crémant. Crémant is a French word with two definitions. The first definition is “wine that’s not from Champagne so we can’t charge as much money.” The second definition is “crisp, classily dry wine with tiny bubbles that dance on your tongue.” And the Albrecht rosé adds an addicting undercurrent of strawberry flavor.
Take it home: Spec’s and Pogo’s both carry it for about $20
Out to eat: Boulevardier (glass or bottle), Shinsei and CBD Provisions (bottle only)
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Albariño: OK, maybe this one does mean “hipster”
What a difference a border makes. Albariño is a type of grape used in a lot of Portugal’s vinho verde. But right across the border, most Spanish producers don’t add fizz, and they let lemon and other citrus flavors come out to play. The result is a bolder wine that’s a big step up in quality.
Albariño is a cult favorite among Dallas sommeliers. I mean, just look below at the (very incomplete) list of restaurants where you can order it. These are the cool kids.
Take it home: Numerous bottles around $10-18 at almost every major retailer
Out to eat: Si Tapas, Sangria, Oak, Hibiscus, Canary by Gorji, Lark on the Park, Max's Wine Dive, Abacus, Komali, Clark Food & Wine Co.