9 Wines for Barbecues & Beaches This Summer

by J.T. & Amy

Ahh... can you feel it? sweet summertime is fast approaching!

Memorial Day Weekend marks the beginning of summer—and the frenzy of barbecues and beach trips and gatherings galore that require cold beverages. Before you scramble to find wines to pair with your grill fare, check out these Under $20 favorites we like to cool off with.




Have some favorites of your own? Pass 'em along. We love to try new things!

Enjoy the season, y'all. 
J.T. & Amy

Casal Garcia Vinho Verde

by Amy

It's fun to be surprised, isn't it?

Usually, we live for routine—and for good reason. We enjoy predictability, keeping pace with the rhythms of the day. But every now and then, it's nice to shake things up.

Such is the case with this week's wine. I wasn't ready to be smacked in the face with so much flavor.

As a somewhat wine no0b, I'd never heard of Vinho Verde before. It's a Portuguese wine, grown in the northwest Minho province. And the "Verde" in its name doesn't dictate the wine is green (as you can see, it's the palest shade of vermillion). The "Verde" here indicates that this wine is intended to be consumed when it's very young—as in, two years after bottling. 

With such a young wine, I expected it to be a little aggressive. What I didn't expect was for it to be the near-liquid equivalent of a Warhead

Tasting Notes

Casal Garcia Vinho Verde: my, oh my, how flavorful you are.

On the nose, folks, you're in for a citrusy good time—it's like sniffing straight lime zest. And when you sip? Be prepared: it is tart. If the idea of sucking a lemon is your idea of a good time, then have at this one. It's so crisp, so citrusy, with a light hint of floral pineapple. AND after a few sips, I detected a bit of effervescence; sure enough, tiny bubbles were rising to the surface. Apparently, sometimes vinters inject this blend with carbon dioxide, making this young wine seem a very close cousin to the white wine spritzer. If you wanted to muddle some fruit and mint into your glass to make a white sangria, I bet it would be mighty tasty.

This wine is like Pellegrino and lemonade had an alcoholic baby. It's something else. 

Price Point

Smile, everybody: this one will only set you back about $7.99, though you may get a better deal at your local merchant.


When I opened this bottle, I made a pan-seared salmon with a cajun spice rub. I'm going to be honest: the vinho verde was more pleasant to drink on its own than paired with the fish (the flavors of the wine wine and the fatty/oily salmon flavor didn't play well together—too much flavor fighting). I bet vinho verde be better with a super aromatic/spicy dish, like a Thai curry or maybe some zesty fish tacos and guacamole. 

Verdict: this wine has summer written all over it. Take it to the beach or on a picnic for a cheap offering that'll leave your guests speechless—or, at least, cock an eyebrow.

Starborough Sauvignon Blanc

By Amy

I (Amy) was at an outdoor wedding a few weeks ago in early September. And I have never sweated so much in such fine, formal clothing.

I can't fault the bride: growing up, the calendars and decor surrounding September featured hay bales, crisp leaves, barrels of apples, and light jackets. But, reality check: the weather in Tennessee is so precarious that it takes more than a little wishful thinking for a September Saturday to be anything but scorching. 

So when you find yourself baking in the middle of a 95-degree pasture, you pray for something, anything decent at the bar during the reception. And this wine surpassed my expectations. Surprisingly refreshing, the crisp, green notes of citrus and pear complement each other quite nicely. This would work fabulously with any fish, chicken, or a light cheese.

The list price for this Sauvignon Blanc is $15, but I consistently find it for $11-$12. Try a bottle—it isn't cold yet, people!

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Kris Pinot Grigio

By Amy

Nope, your eyes don't deceive you: we're talking white wine today, people!

Light and refreshing with enticing aromas of acacia flowers, citrus, tangerine, this pinot grigio is enhanced only by its hints of apricots, almonds, and honey. 

Pick up a bottle for $12.99, and pair it with something light, like grilled mahi mahi tacos. A delicious way to cool off in the summer!