April 5 2017 04:59 PM

Checking out value wines for warm weather adventures

Charles & Charles 2015 rosé is a quality wine for the budget-minded summer fun-seeker
Justin King/City Pulse

We need to talk about the rosé problem. The rosé narrative is at a fever pitch, and if we don’t get this under control, all the delicious cheap pink wine juice out there will increase in price by 30 to 50 percent.

I was in a store this month and I saw two rosé packages, a canned rosé 4-pack in cardboard with the package top reading “stay basic” and a wine called Brosé. Dudes in salmon-colored shorts are now drinking the pink. I guess it’s no surprise everyone’s drinking rosé now. After all, it’s usually cheap and delicious.

Rosé is new Soft Parade, and it’s time to get evolved, son. Your spring and summer lounging plans require you get turnt only at a moderate pace, and you need to stay cheap, and you need think about crowd-pleasing wine. We’re here to help.

Dry rosé is one of the best summer wines, and there is finally a large group of West Coast winemakers keyed into the style, making good, fruit-driven dry wines that are pleasing as punch for the cash you’re obligated to throw down to the cashier.

I’m an indie-first guy, but it’s time to level up here. Charles & Charles 2015 rosé is a must-have for your patio. MUST-HAVE. First up, you’ll probably be able to find this all over town for around $12. It could easily be $16, but it’s not. This is a joint project between Sammy Hagar-look-alike winemaker Charles Smith and hipster-entrepreneur Charles Bieler. It’s mostly syrah, with some mourvedre, grenache and other grapes.

These guys are making great wine at low prices. Even if Charles Smith sold much of his brands to the vino-megalopolis known as Constellation, this is still quality first. And this rosé will save your grilling parties year-round.

But dry pink wine alone won’t redeem your value wine acquisition record throughout 2017. Next cheap wine stop: pinot noir.

I know it may sound boring to the bourgeoisie, but the always cheap Hybrid pinot noir, made by Peltier Winery, might be the value winner of the year.

Expect to pay around $9 for a completely acceptable example of fresh cherry/plum fruit in a California winemaking style that tastes more thoughtful than mass-produced. There are few faults in this California concoction. This isn’t complex wine — you’re not going to be raving about the finish and how tertiary elements articulate beauty — but Hybrid pinot noir should probably be the light-bodied red of the year, based on it’s stupidly enjoyable vino-to-price ratio.

If you can’t shed the big, bold reds in your life but still need a cheap wine, I recommend the Moulin de Gassac cabernet sauvignon. This bottle will run you roughly $12 and could probably be $15. All the right cabernet sauvignon flavors are here: quasi-jammy cassis, plum and blackberry. And the fun part is that you get to pay half the price compared to equivalent Napa cabernets. Why is this?

Moulin de Gassac is made in a land of little consequence for red wines, Languedoc- Roussillon. In this southern French region, one can expect to find a bounty of magnificent rosé wine, sandy beaches and topless women sunbathing on the Riviera. Occasionally, you’ll find cheap red wine that does all you ask of it. The 2015 Moulin de Gassac cabernet sauvignon is just that for our market, and I hope that the power, ripeness and dexterity of this wine doesn’t leap too aggressively anytime soon against our pocketbooks. It’s just too tasty for the money.

Or maybe you’re digging on white wines, those effortless and juicy bottles that are prime for incredible grilling pairings and patio experiences.

Want to know what beverage can do this? Are you sure you want to know?

Riesling. Riesling will save you. It will save your pocketbook, and it’ll save your sanity. You can buy an incredible case of riesling that can pair with spicy yet hearty foods for only $10 to $15 a bottle. How does this happen so often with riesling?

In the last 10 years, rieslings have become quality wines that most hospitalitydriven folks can believe in, due to their balance and age-worthy style. Sometimes, however, they represent an arcane past, hobbled by inconsistencies or hard-to-read labels. There is just too much good riesling out there right now at an incredible value, so you might as well take advantage.

You can find $15 riesling that should be $25 riesling.

A great example is Dr. Loosen’s Dr. L 2015 riesling. An off-dry, moderately mineral, steely, compelling citrus-and apricotleaning wine, this wine shows promise years away from its harvest. But if you’re feeling impatient, you could drink this by the case this summer with no guilt whatsoever.

Justin King is a certified sommelier and owner of Bridge Street Social, a wine and cocktails-focused restaurant in DeWitt.

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