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The Grape Outdoors

The essential warm-weather wines you need to know this season

Spring and summer call for light, refreshing drinks—especially if you're drinking outdoors in the sunshine (which, of course, you should be). And while we love cocktails, nothing is simpler or more satisfying than popping open a bottle of chilled, crisp bubbly or wine.

Here are the five wines you'll find in our picnic baskets and coolers, along with bottle recommendations and glassware pairings to help set the mood.

1 Rosé from Provence

With hues ranging from bring pink to soft apricot, the color alone says, "Let's take it outside." And with fresh fruit aromas and refreshing acidity (there are so many great bone-dry options these days), you really can't go wrong. Chateau Miraval Rosé Côtes de Provence ($20) is wonderfully balanced with a lingering fruity finish and a hint of salty character. It also happens to be made at the estate that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie bought, so this is Brangelina wine. Still, it's delicious.

Serve It In: A sturdy stemless wineglass or break-resistant stemmed glasses

2 Sparkling Rosé

Rosé plus bubbles? It really doesn't get more refreshing. Plus, bubbles pair with everything. Made by the maison that pioneered Crémant production in the 70s and has more gold medals than any other producer in France, Lucien Albrecht Crémant d'Alsace Brut Rosé ($20) is an elegant and lively example of what a brut rosé should be, with its fresh cherry, strawberry and green plum notes.

Serve It In: A vintage-inspired coupe

3 Sancerre

For something a little cleaner (and less pink), go for easy-drinking, light and bright white wines with a dry finish—like the Loire Valley's iconic white Sancerre, one of our favorites to drink with oysters and anything from the raw bar. The 2014 Sommet Doré Sancerre 2014 ($17) is a classic that will please both novices and disciples: steely and dry, with plenty of minerality and citrus.

Serve It In: A rustic tumbler

4 Sparkling Orange

A less established category that is having a moment, orange wine has been hailed as "the new rosé" by some. Whether or not you're ready to part with the pink, it's always fun to try something new. Produced by a small family winery, 2010 Camillo Donati Il Mio Malvasia ($22) is dark orange and cloudy with a touch of tangerine-rind-like bitterness.

Serve It In: A modern twist on the tulip glass

5 Champagne (or Prosecco)

Yes, more bubbles. If you want to splurge, go for a true Champagne, and you'll be rewarded with rich complexity, toasty brioche notes and robust bubbles. For something easier on your wallet, look for Prosecco (Italian-style sparkling wine), which is more spritzy with lighter bubbles—incredibly approachable. Medium-bodied, well-balanced and satisfyingly spry, Pol Roger Brut ($37) comes from a leading small Champagne house and is one of the best values out there. Bursting with creamy red fruit flavor, Gruet Blanc de Noirs ($17) is produced at a modern winery in New Mexico that was founded by the sons of the Champagne house Gruet in the 80s.


Serve It In: A stemless flute

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