In the heat of August, red wines with a chill can be refreshing and delightful counterpoints to grilled meats and other summer fare.
That was the case on a recent weekend as friends invited us to a cookout. One of the wine favorites was an inexpensive red I brought and cooled down for our dinner of sliced strip steaks, local corn, and tomatoes with mozzarella and basil.
The wine was from Austria, the 2017 Zweigelt from E & M Berger in the Kremstal sub-region of Lower Austria. Zweigelt is the most planted red variety in Austria, a cross between two other red grapes, Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent, developed in the 1920s by the eponymous Dr. Fritz Zweigelt.
Berger offers it in liter-sized bottles, giving you a good deal more than the standard 750-milliliter bottle, and at the fantastic price of $15 given the quality of what’s inside (Berger grows its grapes using organic practices).
As we settled into our dinner on the porch with our plates on our laps, the Zweigelt, now cool after 30 minutes in the refrigerator, disappeared quickly. I wasn’t surprised. This is “cheap” wine but doesn’t taste it. It’s cheerful and compelling in its simplicity.
The chill makes it come alive, and because it’s made with little or no oak, the purity of the fruit is what comes through. Cherry and raspberry dominate, with a peppery note, some spice, and a touch of black licorice.
I tasted it again a couple of nights later, this time right out of the fridge where I had left half a bottle the night before, and it was also delicious quite cold.
Alcohol is a mere 12.5 percent, making this wine an easy-drinking summer sipper for any kind of grilled meat or chicken – or even pizza.
Berger offers a similarly priced Grüner Veltliner, Austria’s signature white wine. It also comes in liter bottles and is another top value.