Since it’s tempting to assume (or perhaps “hope” is the better word) that September won’t be just as hot as the previous months have been, Labor Day weekend feels like the summer season’s grand finale. What better way to celebrate than with an impromptu getaway? Whether your perfect three days calls for lounging on the beach, camping in the mountains, or taking a road trip to undiscovered territory, it’s the perfect opportunity to pack up and head out, wine in tow, of course! To avoid the frustration of packing — and inevitably later searching for — a corkscrew, ditch the cork altogether and go for screw cap wine.
Won’t a screw cap mean that the wine is cheap? Not necessarily. Many winemakers are now converting to screw caps as their preferred method of storage. Some, in fact, refuse to use corks at all, believing that the chance of TCA, or cork taint, in corks is too risky for their bottles. What screw caps do indicate is wines with tons of freshness, often meant to be consumed young, as in perfect warm weather wines,
Crack open one of these six favorites and get ready to win this Labor Day weekend — no corkscrew required.
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2015 Ameztoi Txakoli (Getariako Txakolina, Spain)
If you haven’t already embraced Txakoli as sunny beach vibes in a bottle, your summer has been sorely lacking. Don’t worry. There’s still time to fix that. The winery Ameztoi is a master of the bright, sea salt-reminiscent, slightly effervescent wines of Txakoli, growing grapes in vineyards that overlook the rocky northern Spanish coast. While Ameztoi is more known for its rosé, the classic white Txakoli, unmissable in its bright green packaging, is the pinnacle of beach wine: zippy acid for days, sea breezes, and sun-drenched citrus. It truly brings the gorgeous blue seas of Spain directly to your glass; drink enough and you’ll probably start asking for directions to San Sebastian.
2015 Peter Lauer ‘Barrel X’ Riesling (Mosel, Germany)
No end-of-summer adventure is complete without a dry, refreshing Riesling (or a sweet, refreshing Riesling, for that matter), and the Barrel X from coveted producer Peter Lauer delivers on all fronts: ease of transport, affordability, and thirst-quenching deliciousness. At just around 9 grams per liter of residual sugar, the Barrel X is on the border of off-dry, but its bright acidity swings the flavor profile to the dry side of the spectrum. Bright limey citrus, green apple, and stony minerality burst forth on the palate, keeping things cool even on hot days. Bonus: it comes in magnum-sized bottles, too!
2015 Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare (Central Coast, California)
Rosé is a warm-weather necessity, but let’s face it: there’s a lot of bad rosé out there. For a last summer hurrah, you deserve a rosé that’s more than just cold alcohol. Enter Bonny Doon’s Vin Gris de Cigare, a pale pink blend of red and white Rhône grape varieties grown in sunny California. Zesty strawberry, cranberry, lemon, and orange fruit flavors are accented by a hint of beachy saltiness, subtle but exceedingly crushable. You’ll wish that this had been your go-to rosé all summer long.
NV Wolffer Estate No. 139 Dry Rosé Cider (Long Island, New York)
Okay, okay, while we’ll admit that this is not wine, Wolffer’s Dry Rosé Cider is made with the addition of red grape juice for color and flavor, so it counts as a wine product. And let’s face it, this cider is just too darn delicious to resist, with the bonus of being exceedingly portable; sold in a four-pack of 355 ml bottles (the equivalent of just under two regular wine bottles). Just slightly sweet, it combines everything you love about both rosé and cider, with flavors of crunchy red apple, sun-kissed strawberry, and cool raspberry. Stock up on this one — it goes down far too easily.
NV Familie Bauer Zweigelt (Niederösterreich, Austria)
The winemakers of Austria haven’t hesitated to embrace the screw cap movement, and many of the red and white-striped capsules used to indicate an Austrian wine sit atop a Stelvin closure. Happily, Austrian grapes are also incredibly warm-weather friendly, like the signature — and relatively new — red grape Zweigelt. Think of the light-bodied freshness that a young Gamay or Pinot Noir offers, add a dash of spice and a kick of tart acidity, and you’ve got Zweigelt. This entry-level offering from Familie Bauer is meant to be drunk young, fresh, and cold, perfect for when the sun starts setting and the grill fires up. Light and not too tannic, this Zweigelt is all about tart red fruit: pomegranate, cherry, red plum, and raspberry, with just the right amount of earth and a touch of red flowers.
2014 Shelter Winery “Lovely Lilly” Pinot Noir (Baden, Germany)
Who can resist bringing a dog to romp around on a spontaneous getaway? She may only be on the label, but “Lovely Lilly” brings her energetic spirit to this youthful, lively Pinot Noir from Baden, the warmest region in Germany. Winemaker Hans-Bert Espe refuses to bottle his wines with cork, sticking only to screw cap, after a rash of cork taint in a previous winery ruined a fifth of that harvest’s wines. In this case, it works to showcase a fresh yet soft red wine, with notes of bright red cherry, violet petals, and dark minerality. Screw cap aging non-believers should take a closer look at Shelter Winery’s wines; they are aging beautifully.