Just in time for tailgating season (or for those last picnic-worthy days of the year), here are four great wines that are both easygoing and easy to open—none require a corkscrew. Choose one based on what you’ll be dishing up.
Burgers and Barbecue
While Zinfandel meshes well with anything off the grill, the bold red is at its outdoor-drinking best this month as the weather cools. Try the Bota Box 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel (California; $20/3-liter box). Bright, shimmery and brimming with wild berry flavors, sweet vanilla oak and refreshing hints of spice, the medium-bodied sip won’t weigh you.
Brats and Dogs
The idea of pairing Riesling with sausages isn’t new (the Germans have been doing it for centuries). What is new is that quality boxed Rieslings are making their way to our shores. Look for R. Müller 2009 Riesling (Landwein Rhein, Germany; $24/3-liter “Octavin” box), and enjoy it for its smooth, medium-sweet flavor and fruity-crisp balance. The relatively low alcohol content (9.5%) is a boon when you have a long game-day ahead of you.
If your menu is more about the farmers’ market than the meat market, try Chateau Bonnet 2010 White (Entre-Deux-Mers, France; $13/750-ml bottle). The blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle offers crisp, lemony-pear flavors. Enjoy it with juicy tomatoes and anything generously flecked with herbs. And leave the corkscrew at home—this comes in a screw-cap bottle.
If your cooler brims with dashing bites like shrimp, charcuterie and artisanal cheeses, uncork a bottle of La Marca Prosecco (Veneto, Italy; $17). The bright and fruity, go-with-anything bubbly is hefty enough to stand up to bold flavors, but it’s ultimately very refreshing—like beer, only with infinitely more finesse.
—By Wini Moranville