12 Essential Red Wines for Summer

David Armin-Parcells, owner of Motor City Wine in Detroit © Valerie Monet
By Megan Krigbaum Posted August 14, 2015

David Armin-Parcells of Detroit's Motor City Wine is a huge fan of lighter-bodied red wines that are best when chilled down to about 50 degrees at this time of year. Here, his 12 picks for chuggable summer reds.

David and Melissa Armin-Parcell have a devoted following at their Motor City Wine in Detroit’s burgeoning Corktown neighborhood. The wine shop–wine bar hybrid (the only wine bar in Detroit!) has become a local favorite for affordable bottles from small-production, family-owned wineries. “Most of our customers come in and put their lives in our hands,” says David. “We’ll let them try a couple of things and we’ll get them into something new—something unusual.” Seventy percent of what’s on the shelf is European, and 80 percent is under $20.

If you choose to drink the wine right there, the corkage fee is only $8. “Of course, the nicer the bottle you get, the better the deal,” he says.

This great deal has caught on. Sundays, in particular, are very popular on the Motor City patio, says David. “We get a couple hundred people out there drinking rosé and Vinho Verde in the summer. And we have a different restaurant pop-up or food truck come in each week.”

David’s goal is to get customers to try something that deviates from their norm. “Frequently, on our list, you won’t see Pinot,” he says. “You won’t see Cabernet. We try to have one, maybe two things that are kind of in people’s comfort zones, but the rest is really unique. We have about 30 wines by the glass at our bar and probably half of those change every week.”

These days, he’s a huge fan of lighter-bodied reds, best chilled down to about 50 degrees this time of year. Here are his 12 picks for easy-going, patio-sipping reds:

1. 2012 Shady Lane Franc n Franc Cabernet Franc/Blaufränkisch ($18)
“Like most wineries in northern Michigan, Shady Lane is known for Riesling, but it’s one of the few that makes a really high-quality red in the under $20 range. This is light and smoky with really nice acidity and really bright fruit. It definitely has some of the floral Cabernet Franc qualities that you would expect, but it has a lot of minerality from the Blaufränkisch. There are a few wineries on the Leelanau Peninsula that have been growing Blaufränkisch for a number of years now. It’s an Austrian grape that definitely does well in cool weather regions and it seems to do really well in Leelanau. Left Foot Charley does a really nice one, too.”

2. 2013 Cembra Valvalé Schiava ($18)
“Schiava is a grape that’s grown in the Dolomites in far northern Italy, right on the border with Austria. This is Pinot Noir–esque; it’s definitely on the more savory side, but with some brightly acidic fruit. We were drinking a bottle of this the other day and switched to a rosé afterward—and the rosé was actually darker than the Schiava. It’s really, really light. Put a little chill on it and it’s a great summer red.”

3. 2014 Gorrondona Txakolina Tinto ($27)
“This is the first red wine from Txakolina that I’ve come across. Apparently the Spaniards keep most of it for themselves, but there are a couple of wineries now that are exporting small quantities. This is probably the heaviest red on this list. It’s similar to a Cabernet Franc and it has a pronounced roasted bell pepper quality, but red pepper, not green pepper.”

4. 2010 Jean Bourdy Côtes du Jura Rouge ($34)
“The wine geeks have definitely taken ahold of Jura, which is great. This one is also superlight. It’s very similar to the Schiava in a lot of ways, but a little earthier; it’s a blend of Pinot Noir, Trousseau and Poulsard. It has quite a bit of age in the bottle already; 2010 is the current release.”

5. 2011 Köster-Wolf Spätburgunder ($18)
“Spätburgunder is German for Pinot Noir. Germany hasn’t had a lot of good luck with red wines, but occasionally I find a really spectacular one, like this. It’s dense and smoky and goes with lighter barbecued foods, like grilled salmon. And it’s such a deal.”

6. 2014 Bolzano St. Magdalener Classico Huck am Bach ($22)
“Alto Adige’s definitely known as a white wine region, but there are a few good reds and they all tend to be on the lighter side. This blend of Vernatsch and Lagrein is superlight and very, very savory. If you like the really dry, really savory rosés, this wine is kind of where they meet the reds.”

7. 2011 Domaine de Prieuré Bourgogne Pinot Noir ($20)
“2011 wasn’t exactly the best vintage in Burgundy, but this little producer managed to make a really brilliant wine that I just want to keep drinking. It’s less in that red cherry style and more on the salty side—it has a lot of minerality to it. This is definitely more of a food wine than a sit-around-and-sip sort of wine.”

8. 2014 Olim Bauda Grignolino d'Asti ($18)
“Grignolino is one of those wines that Italians refer to as a Monday wine—same with Barbera. They’re not supposed to be beard-stroking geek wines. You chug it. This one has great strawberry leaf and strawberry flavors. I always drink this with a chill. This is wine that kind of comes home with me every week. I’ll probably drink one tonight with my wife.”

9. 2014 Domaine Dupeuble Beaujolais Rouge ($16)
“This Beaujolais is definitely one of my perennial favorites from a great producer and from a great importer, Kermit Lynch. It’s classic style Beaujolais. Very light, fruit-forward, and much like the Grignolino, just super chuggable and fun.”

10. 2013 Birichino Saint Georges Pinot Noir ($25)
“I’m not much of a New World guy, but Birichino is making some really cool stuff on the Central Coast. I really gravitate towards a lot of natural winemaking and I really dig the sour note that that can bring. Birichino does that really well.”

11. 2013 Hugl Zweigelt ($15)
“I’m a big fan of Austrian reds. Big fan. We do a lot of Zweigelts here. In fact, I have one on the by-the-glass list right now. Our customers have really gravitated towards it. It’s a nice change from Pinot Noir. This is kind of a medium-bodied Zweigelt. It’s smoky and really, really food-friendly. You can drink it on the patio, chilled, and it’s great with lighter foods, salads—that sort of thing.”

12. 2012 Joseph Swan Cuvée des Trois Pinot Noir ($37)
“This is just a dynamite Pinot, from one of the best producers in the country. Very much on the natural winemaking side of things and much deeper, much, much, much more complex than the Birichino. Every time you go back for another sip, it’s different, which is really what excites me.”

Related: 12 Myth-Busting Wines from Frankly Wines's Christy Frank
12 Summer Wines for Stone Crabs, Grilled Sausages and Bendy Straws
12 Outstanding Wines from Women Winemakers

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