With summer in full throttle, it's time for red wines that can match foods from the grill without overpowering us with weight or alcohol. This week's greatest value is a delightful mencia from Spain, a bargain at $13. Those with more substantial appetites will want to try the Babylonstoren Babel, which might get you talking about the quality of South African wines. Give these a slight chill before drinking. And because you'll need to slake your thirst while the grill is heating up, we have a delicious chardonnay from Spain, as well as a Provence rosé and a sangria in cans.
SEÑORÍO DE LA ANTIGUA FINCA CABANELA MENCIA 2015
Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon, Spain, $13 Here's a delightful, inexpensive red from Spain, which continues to offer terrific bargains. It is savory, with notes of wild herbs and cherries and perhaps a hint of boxwood. Alcohol by volume: 14 percent.
BABYLONSTOREN BABEL 2017
Western Cape, South Africa, $22
Shiraz (syrah) and cabernet sauvignon are about half of this delicious red blend, with the rest malbec, petit verdot, merlot, cabernet franc and pinotage. Pinotage is a South African signature, but the recipe otherwise follows no convention. Bright fruit, bracing acidity and a nice long finish make this a great wine for red meat or grilled chicken. ABV: 14 percent.
OTAZU CHARDONNAY 2018
Navarra, Spain, $14 Chardonnay from Spain? Why not? Everyone else is growing it. And Otazu does it well, medium-bodied with flavors of ripe peaches and apricots and a slight note of bitterness at the end. It is fermented in stainless steel instead of wooden barrels to preserve the freshness. ABV: 13.5 percent.
BEGONIA SANGRIA TINTO
Spain, $17 per 4-pack of 330-milliliter cans After a long Sunday afternoon stuck in traffic on Interstate 95 in Virginia, I got home too late and too tired to consider opening a bottle of wine. Luckily, I had a can of Begonia Sangria on hand. Poured over ice with a splash of sparkling water, it helped lift the weariness of the day off my shoulders. Granted, I'd prefer it mixed with sparkling wine on a not-too-hot summer's day on the patio with friends, but I'll take what I can get. This is a blend of monastrell and bobal grapes, macerated with Valencia orange peels, Azahar flowers, cinnamon and cardamom. Begonia sells this red, along with a white and rosé Sangria, in 1-liter bottles as well. ABV: 6 percent.
AMBLE + CHASE ROSÉ 2018
Provence, $22 per 4-pack of 250ml cans This is a tasty Provence rosé conveniently packaged for portability and portion control. (A four-pack is a liter, so three cans equal a traditional bottle at the equivalent price of about $16.50. The good side here — you're not sacrificing quality for the convenience of the can. ABV: 12.5 percent.
* Very good