Rumors to the contrary, we do keep a few beers in the fridge for friends and family who demand it with their barbecue and picnic fare during the hot weather months. Agreed, an iced Pacifico with a dash of lemon is a remedy we remember from beating the heat during spring break escapes to Mexico in our misspent youth. Now, we look to match a bargain red with those heartier foods with intense sauces and extra character from charcoal grilling. And the shelves are alive with the sound of music to a wine drinkers ear: big mark downs caused by huge inventories of wines from wineries, to warehouses, to retailers.

In the past few months, we’ve found and Tweeted (@tomgable or @sdwineguru) about two score finds and more. For your picnicking pleasures:


Malbec 08 Alma Andina $15 Mendoza. Complex mint/earth/wood nose; round, ripe, long hot finish (14% alc). w/bbq beef.

BBQ wine Amancaya 08 Malbec-Cab blend Mendoza $14. Late-harvest Zin-like 14.5 alc. Big, grapey, long finish. w/burgers off the grill.

Value Malbec 08 Tapiz $9 Mendoza. Dark as Port; ripe grape, woody nose; round, ripe, soft finish. w/pasta.



Softer Shiraz 08 Layer Cake S. Australia $13. Berry/wood nose; mid-body to fat; good flavor/finish. BBQ wine. Also w/gamey cheeses.

BBQ match. 09 “Optimist” SE Australia 55 Shiraz, 45 Cabernet $11. Berry nose; mid-body/tannins. w/appetizers.

Burger wine 08 Warburn Barossa Shiraz $12. Big berry nose, 14.5 alc; mid-big body; grapey. w/ribs, too.

Tasty Livermore Petite Sirah 07 Concannon $12. Mint/spice nose; mid-body; more refined than most; good structure. w/meat course.

BBQ wine. Super $15 find Jim Barry 07 Clare Valley Aussie Shiraz. Mint/berry nose; big fruit/flavor.

Other Reds

Portugal find Valoroso 08 Caberent-Castelao blend $12. Berries/jam nose 14.5 alc; big/ripe intriguing style, fresh flavors. w/beef.

Fire up the barbie. Value red 08 B*tch S. Australia Grenache $8. 15.8 alc. Earthy nose; ripe/fat, grapey. w/lively sauces.

Pizza pasta wine Bric di Bersan 07 Monferatto Dolcetto $12. Woody/prune nose; big, fat, grapey, higher alcohol. w/spicy meatballs too.

Puglia pasta wine Colucci 04 Copertino $12. Negroaroma grape; berries/wood nose; mid-body, balanced; new flavor (like a big Barbera).

Amarone style BBQ red: La Fonte d’Oro 08 from Puglia. Negroaroma/primitivo blend. Mint/earth nose; grapey, fat. w/pasta, heavy garlic.

Another different wine to try. Gran Calero 08 Monastrell Spain $12. Berry/wood nose; Zin/Barbera-like style; good finish. w/beef.

Big BBQ wine 09 The Boxer Durif New South Wales $12. Try instead of Syrah or Malbec. Big, grapey, intriguing flavor 15% alc.

Rhone and Environs

Value Cotes du Rhone Villages 07 Le Prieure $12. 65% Grenache 35 Syrah. Sweet Gr nose; mid-body; fruity finish. w/apps, cheeses, etc.