With summer in full throttle, it’s time for red wines that can match foods from the grill without overpowering us with weight or alcohol. This week’s greatest value is a delightful mencia from Spain, a bargain at $13. Those with more substantial appetites will want to try the Babylonstoren Babel, which might get you talking about the quality of South African wines. Give these a slight chill before drinking. And because you’ll need to slake your thirst while the grill is heating up, we have a delicious chardonnay from Spain, as well as a Provence rosé and a sangria in cans.
• Señorío de la Antigua Finca Cabanela Mencia 2015: Two-and-a-half stars; Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon, Spain, $13. Here’s a delightful, inexpensive red from Spain, which continues to offer terrific bargains. It is savory, with notes of wild herbs and cherries and perhaps a hint of boxwood. Alcohol by volume: 14 percent.
• Babylonstoren Babel 2017: Two-and-a-half stars; Western Cape, South Africa, $22. Shiraz (syrah) and cabernet sauvignon are about half of this delicious red blend, with the rest malbec, petit verdot, merlot, cabernet franc and pinotage. Pinotage is a South African signature, but the recipe otherwise follows no convention. Bright fruit, bracing acidity and a nice long finish make this a great wine for red meat or grilled chicken. ABV: 14 percent.
• Otazu Chardonnay 2018: Two stars; Navarra, Spain, $14. Chardonnay from Spain? Why not? Everyone else is growing it. And Otazu does it well, medium-bodied with flavors of ripe peaches and apricots and a slight note of bitterness at the end. It is fermented in stainless steel instead of wooden barrels to preserve the freshness. ABV: 13.5 percent.
• Begonia Sangria Tinto: Two stars; Spain, $17 per 4-pack of 330-milliliter cans. After a long Sunday afternoon stuck in traffic on Interstate 95 in Virginia, I got home too late and too tired to consider opening a bottle of wine. Luckily, I had a can of Begonia Sangria on hand. Poured over ice with a splash of sparkling water, it helped lift the weariness of the day off my shoulders. Granted, I’d prefer it mixed with sparkling wine on a not-too-hot summer’s day on the patio with friends, but I’ll take what I can get. This is a blend of monastrell and bobal grapes, macerated with Valencia orange peels, Azahar flowers, cinnamon and cardamom. Begonia sells this red, along with a white and rosé Sangria, in 1-liter bottles as well. ABV: 6 percent.
• Amble + Chase Rosé 2018: Two stars; Provence, $22 per 4-pack of 250ml cans. This is a tasty Provence rosé conveniently packaged for portability and portion control. (A four-pack is a liter, so three cans equal a traditional bottle at the equivalent price of about $16.50. The good side here - you’re not sacrificing quality for the convenience of the can. ABV: 12.5 percent.
• Three stars: Exceptional; Two stars: Excellent; One star: Very good. Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.