Exceptional Excellent Very Good
About 3 in 10 Americans adults don’t drink alcohol. We don’t hold that against them — we still invite these friends and family to dinner parties, weddings, graduation celebrations and other special occasions. But what to serve them for the toast? Martinelli’s sparkling cider has long been a standby alternative for Champagne. Now Welch’s offers another choice: A sparkling rosé grape juice that mimics the real thing almost to a tee, except for the buzz. A delicious way to “rosé all day.”
Also this week, we have an outstanding cabernet franc from Argentina, two whites and a rosé from southern France, ideal for your patio dinners as the weather finally warms up.
Mendoza, Argentina, $27
Argentina is best known for its malbec, but cabernet does exceptionally well in Mendoza, too — both cabernet sauvignon and in this example, cabernet franc. The wine is a bit rough-and-tumble at first, but decant for an hour, or just let it open in your glass, and it smooths out to a stylish, fruit-forward New World-style red. Enjoy this with steak or hearty roasts. Alcohol by volume: 14.5 percent.
Distributed by Kysela: Available in the District at Batch 13, Circle Wine & Liquor, DCanter, Magruder’s; on the list at Black Salt. Available in Maryland at Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits in Annapolis, Bo Brooks Lighthouse Liquors, Wells Discount Liquors and Wine Source in Baltimore, Edgewater Liquors in Edgewater, Fairgrounds Discount Beverages in Timonium, Maple Lawn Wine & Spirits in Fulton, Midway Discount Liquors in Joppa, Wine Merchant in Lutherville. Available in Virginia at Cork & Fork in Gainesville, Kroger (several locations), Locke Store in Millwood, Pottery Factory in Williamsburg, Screwtop Wine Bar & Cheese Shop in Arlington, Whole Foods Market (Reston); on the list at Mokomandy in Sterling, Village Square in Winchester.
Remember when Soave was almost as synonymous with white wine as chardonnay? Well, your parents probably do. Soave has fallen out of favor, and that’s unfortunate. This zesty, citrusy beauty deserves to be on every patio table this summer. It’s terrific on its own, but you’ll want to have it with food — ceviche, grilled fish or shellfish, even pasta with red sauce. Delicious. ABV: 12 percent.
Distributed by M. Touton in the District and Maryland: Available in the District at Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Crescent Beer & Wine in Bowie, Dunkirk Wine & Spirits in Dunkirk, Giolitti Delicatessen and the Italian Market in Annapolis, Greenbelt Co-Op in Greenbelt, Old Farm Liquors and Riverside Liquors in Frederick.
Languedoc, France, $9
Pale pink in color, scented with berries and melons, this lovely, inexpensive rosé is one of my favorites every year. It’s delightful by itself but is also great with spicy and garlicky foods, so think of this with your Sichuan carryout or light lunches on the patio. ABV: 11 percent.
Distributed by Dionysus: Available in the District at Mediterranean Way Gourmet Market, Rodman’s, Whole Foods Market (Foggy Bottom, H Street, P Street, Tenleytown). Available in Maryland at Balducci’s, Beer Wine & Co., Bradley Food & Beverage, Capital Beer & Wine and Cork 57 Beer and Wine in Bethesda; Bethesda Co-Op in Cabin John; Hop N Grape in North Bethesda; Rodman’s (Wheaton, White Flint); Wine Cellars of Annapolis; Wine Source in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s (Alexandria, McLean), Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview), Whole Foods Market (Alexandria, Arlington, Ashland, Fair Lakes).
Rueda, Spain, $15
The white wines of Rueda, in western Spain, are typically made with the verdejo grape. The flavor is reminiscent of the better-known sauvignon blanc (which several producers in this region are growing), but without the grassy pungency. Think tropical fruit flavors with nice but not bracing acidity and medium body. Enjoy this by itself, with olives or seafood salads. ABV: 13 percent.
Distributed by Artisans & Vines: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Rodman’s, Schneider’s of Capitol Hill. Available in Maryland at Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda, Fenwick Beer & Wine in Silver Spring, O’Donnell’s Market in Potomac, Takoma Park-Silver Spring Food Co-op in Takoma Park.
United States, $4
Okay, so it’s not technically a wine, but in many ways it can pass as one. This new release from Welch’s has the right body, the right acidity and dryness for rosé, and it is tasty and refreshing. The only thing missing is the alcohol. Wine lovers may raise their eyebrows at the familiar Welch’s flavor of Concord grapes, but this is ideal to have on hand for dinner parties, celebrations such as bridal showers, weddings, etc., where anyone may prefer not to drink wine but still be included in the fun. ABV: 0 percent.
Widely available on your supermarket’s juice aisle.
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.