Columnist, Food
Recommendations

★ ★ ★Exceptional  ★ ★Excellent ★Very Good

Availability information is based on distributor records. Wines might not be in stock at every listed store and might be sold at additional stores. Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.

These wines from down under — as in, south of the equator — are suitable for summer drinking and pairing with foods from the grill.

Pikes Riesling Hills & Valleys 2013

★ ★ ★

Clare Valley, South Australia, Australia, $15

Pikes is one of Australia’s best Riesling producers. This delightful wine starts as textbook Riesling, with the mineral-oil aromas wine lovers often refer to as “diesel.” Then it explodes with citrusy fruit flavors and ends with a refreshing lime zest note that makes you want another sip. This is a delicious value for the money. Alcohol by volume: 11.5 percent.

Country Vintner: Available in the District at Circle Wine & Liquor, Kogod Liquor, Rodman’s; on the list at Busboys and Poets, Room 11. Available in Maryland at I.M. Wine in Fulton. Available in Virginia at Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview); on the list at Pike’s Fish House in Leesburg.

Artesana Tannat-Merlot-Zinfandel 2013

★ ★ 1 / 2

Canelones, Uruguay, $18

This is probably the best wine I’ve tasted from Uruguay, a country establishing a name for itself with tannat, a tannic red grape from the Madiran appellation of southwestern France. Tannat adds heft, color and tannin. The merlot softens those rough edges with cherry and plum fruit and a silky texture. Zinfandel? In Uruguay? Unusual, to say the least. Here it adds a sexy, spicy complexity to the wine. All in all, a successful combination. ABV: 14.5 percent.

Siema: Available in the District at Arrowine and Spirits, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Wagshal’s Deli. Available in Maryland at Fenwick Beer & Wine in Silver Spring, Grano Emporio in Baltimore, Midway Discount Liquors in Joppa, Pinky & Pepe’s Grape Escape in Gaithersburg. Available in Virginia at Ashburn Wine Shop, Bottle Stop in Occoquan, Downtown Wine & Gourmet in Harrisonburg, Grapes of Taste in Ladysmith, Grapevine in Warrenton, Hop & Wine in Fredericksburg, In Vino Veritas in Keswick, Little Washington Winery Tasting Room; Market 2 Market in Alexandria; Old Virginia Tobacco in Sterling, Planet Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria, Vinosity in Culpeper, Wine Cabinet in Reston.

Cousiño-Macul Merlot 2013

★ ★ 1 / 2

Maipo Valley, Chile, $11

From one of Chile’s oldest wineries, this is my go-to recommendation whenever someone asks for a cheap red that excels for the price. It can often be found below full retail. Cousiño-Macul’s Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon was the first wine I ever bought by the case; a local store had mispriced it as the regular cab. Two decades later, the wines are better than ever. ABV: 14 percent.

Winebow: Widely available, including in the District at Calvert Woodley, Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Continental Wine & Liquor, Rodman’s, S&R Liquors, U Street Wine & Beer. Available in Maryland at Montgomery County liquor and wine stores.

Seifried Old Coach Road Chardonnay 2014

★ ★ 1 / 2

Nelson, New Zealand, $18

New Zealand is known for its sauvignon blanc and pinot noir, but its chardonnay can excel, too. Not much of it makes it here to the States, because we’re conditioned to look for the savvies. This example from Seifried shows the racy orchard-fruit flavors characteristic of the grape, with a vibrant acidity that makes you take notice and want another sip. Not too fast, though: Wait just until the last one fades away. ABV: 14 percent.

Elite: Available in the District at Arrowine and Spirits, Capitol Hill Wine and Spirits, Mac Market, Modern Liquors, Whole Foods Market (Foggy Bottom, Georgetown). Available in Maryland at Balducci’s in Bethesda. Available in Virginia at Market Street Wineshop (Downtown, Uptown) in Charlottesville, Vino Market in Midlothian, WineStyles (Montclair); on the list at Nam-Viet in Arlington, Pescados in Midlothian.

Los Vascos Sauvignon Blanc 2014

★ ★

Casablanca, Chile, $10

The producer, part of the holdings of the Rothschild family from Bordeaux, is best known for great-value cabernets. This sauvignon blanc is racy and ripe, with grassy notes characteristic of the variety. It is fine by itself but better with seafood and salty, briny dishes with olives or capers. ABV: 13.5 percent.

Southern: Available in the District at Crown Liquor, Rodman’s, Safeway (various locations); on the list at Acre 121, El Centro D.F., Old Engine 12 Firehouse Restaurant. Available in Maryland at Hunt Valley Wine, Liquor & Beer in Cockeysville; Total Wine & More (Laurel, Towson). On the list at Riverside Pub and Grille in Bel Air.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly described tannat as a grape from the Cahors appellation of France. It is from the Madiran appellation.