Here are five wines to test your palate and to pair with your warm weather cookouts.
Rutherford Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Napa Valley, Calif., $20
GREAT VALUE Two stars
A "great value" in a Napa Valley cabernet? This delicious example shows it can be done: textbook cab with blackberry and mint flavors, finishing with subtle tannins that give it gravitas. Excellent for steaks or burgers on the grill. Alcohol content: 13.5 percent.
Bacchus in D.C. and Maryland, Virginia Imports in Virginia.
Clos du Mont-Olivet Montueil-la Levade 2011
Cotes du Rhone, France, $15
GREAT VALUE Two starsFor the past few vintages, this has been one of my favorites from Cotes du Rhone. It's still a bit brash and in-your-face, with its juicy cherry and plum fruits, but it will only get better with a bit more bottle age. Buy several; enjoy some now with your late-summer cookouts and keep a few for your winter stews. Alcohol content: 14.5 percent.
Esporao Reserva 2011
Alentejo, Portugal, $20
Two starsConfession: I opened this heavy, dark-colored bottle expecting a red wine. I was not disappointed, however, in the aromatic, rich blend of three Portuguese white grapes: arinto, antao vaz and roupeiro. It offers lovely flavors of green apple, quince and peach, with hints of honeysuckle. Great for grilled poultry and fish. Alcohol content: 14.5 percent.
Bouchaine Riesling Las Brisas Vineyard 2012
Carneros, Calif., $22
California is not known for its Riesling, but this single-vineyard, off-dry example shows lovely varietal characteristics of apricots and mineral oil. Pair it with funky cheese or slightly spicy dishes. This is the first vintage of this wine that has been sold outside the winery, so it is in limited distribution. Alcohol content: 10 percent.
M Touton Selection.
Mas de Bressades Cuvee Tradition Rose 2012
Costieres de Nimes, France, $13
One and a half stars
This is a delightful rose, with flavors on the watermelon side rather than strawberry. I discovered that it has an affinity for ginger. Alcohol content: 13.5 percent.
Three stars Exceptional, two stars Excellent, one star Very Good
Availability information is based on distributor records. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.