/ story and photography by Pete Martin
I get it: there’s an excitement about removing a cork that adds to the wine-drinking experience that screw caps don’t bring to the table. But while we could debate the pros and cons of screw caps, it’s hard to argue with the ease in which a screw-cap wine bottle can be opened. They’re the perfect choice for a picnic or outdoor get-together this summer. With some help from Ed Buffington, co-owner of The Community Tap, here are five affordable screw-cap wines perfect for your next picnic, whether it be in a park or on your porch.
Bring a bottle of screw-cap wine to a party and someone is likely to look at you with suspicion, but a number of producers have embraced them. The reality is that screw caps offer a number of advantages over corks, primarily low failure rates that promise better wine preservation.
Secateurs Chenin Blanc, $16
A lot goes into making this South African wine. Though predominantly chenin blanc, palomino and a “secret” unidentified grape are blended to achieve the desired flavor profile. Additionally, this highly aromatic wine is fermented in concrete tanks, older casks and large foudres, or wooden vats, to help integrate the various varietals. You’ll find flavors of citrus, grapefruit, apple, mango and stone fruits presented with solid body and bright acidity. This chenin blanc can stand up to almost any picnic food, cheese, or Asian fare. You could also serve it with some desserts.
Reunión Malbec, $15
Even those of us who love red wine can find it a tough sell on a hot day. This Argentinian malbec, however, should satisfy any red wine drinker without being overbearing. This sustainably farmed wine has a deep, red-purple color and presents flavors of plum, cherry and notes of chocolate. The Reunión is a bit sweet with a long, slightly tannic finish. “This malbec is lighter on its feet than many other versions making it ideal for warmer weather,” Buffington says. This would be my go-to red with barbecued meats, ribs or a big, juicy burger.
Gota Prunus Rosé, $16
Rosé has been seeing a surge in popularity over the last decade and with good reason: a rosé goes with almost any food and is a great choice for warm-weather drinking. “What could be more perfect for a picnic than a great rosé? Such a versatile wine,” Buffington says. Gota, which started in 2010, focuses on showcasing the potential of Portuguese wines. This rosé, made from 100% tempranillo grapes, delivers a nice, balanced flavor profile with hints of tropical and stone fruits along with solid acidity. Pair it with a refreshing salad, chicken, seafood or sandwiches.
Jelu Pinot Noir Neuquén, $15
Jelu Estate was established to promote Argentina’s terroir. Co-founder and winemaker Duncan Killiner, who has consulted for a number of wineries worldwide, leverages the region’s high elevations to produce bright, crisp, balanced wines. Blueberry and cherry dominate, with hints of thyme, stone fruit and minerality. Although the tasting notes suggest a dry wine, I found a bit of sweetness on the palate. This light red wine would pair well with club sandwiches or grilled chicken or salmon. For optimum taste, Buffington suggests chilling it a bit before serving.
Jean-Marc Brocard Bourgogne Chardonnay, $17
This French white won’t disappoint. Unlike some inexpensive chards, this one isn’t thin or watery. Citrus notes abound, with a hint of sweetness and nice minerality. The wine is crisp and fresh, yet still creamy on the palate. According to the winemaker’s notes, the personality of the soil (limestone, clay, marine fossils) plays a big role in this wine’s flavor profile. “This wine is a perfect match for traditional Southern picnic foods like fried chicken and potato salad,” Buffington says. It also could complement a fancy dinner at home. It’s that good