Now that we’ve skipped spring and gone straight to summer, we can get busy planning our favorite warm-weather pastime: outdoor drinking. There’s nothing better than chilling in a park, at a beach, or on a roof, except maybe chilling in a park, at a beach, or on a roof with some ice-cold vino to go along with our snacks, grilling, music, or weed.
The problem: Not every bottle is created equal and most aren’t exactly outdoor-friendly (hand up if you’ve brought a stealthy beer or wine bottle to the park, only to realize you forgot the opener), so we decided to do the hard work of researching and taste-testing the best wines to go for you. Plus, we got input from pros, including Michelle Biscieglia, wine director of NYC’s popular Blue Hill restaurant, and Trisha Antonsen, formerly the chief cocktail officer of Drizly, an online alcohol delivery service.
Below, check out our reviews of the newest wines that don’t require a corkscrew:
Sofia Blanc de Blanc Minis ($20 for four at The Family Coppola)
A product of iconic director Francis Ford Coppola‘s Winery in Sonoma County, CA, the Sofia Minis are touted on the winery’s website for their zesty and refreshing taste. Indeed, our editors were fans, saying it would be “excellent with a nice fish,” and “great for drinking on the DL.”
Barefoot Refresh Crisp White Spritzer ($7.99 for four at Drizly)
When we got a pitch announcing the arrival of a new canned spritzer to the wine market, we had to try it—especially since it was described as a “flavorful, light, and lively.” Try it we did, and while it was certainly flavorful, some editors found it a bit on the sugary side. If you’re a fan of sweet, bottoms up; otherwise, you might want to save this for an after-dinner drink, as one editor suggested.
Underwood Pinot Noir ($28 for four at Union Wine Co.)
This canned brand had a great rep from Reddit wine drinkers, so we took it for a spin. It’s described as having notes of cherries, raspberries, and chocolate, and while I’m not sure any of us detected anything quite so subtle, we all agreed this red was smooth and yummy.
Pampelonne Rosé Lime ($16.99 for four at Pampelonne)
Pampelonne’s product tagline is “low-calorie sparkling wines” that are “easily accessible, conveniently chic, low-calorie and low in sugar.” We won’t argue that the packaging is cute (in a Lilly Pulitzer sort of way), but we found the 110-calorie muscadet mixture nearly undrinkable in its sweetness. “It’s like wine-flavored soda,” observed one editor. Again, sugar fans, imbibe all you want, but if you prefer your wine dry, skip this one.
Lila Pinot Grigio ($11.99 for four at Ninety + Cellars)
Another newish canned wine brand, Lila comes in bright, punchy colors, and the Pinot Grigio lived up to its description of being mellow and fruity. We all found it highly drinkable, and likened it to a “solid house wine at a bar.” For $3 a can, we can get behind that.
Bandit Cabernet Sauvignon ($10.99 per 1L carton at BevMo)
My local Brooklyn wine store owner agreed that Bandit, another Reddit drinker favorite, is one of the better boxed brands out there. We concur: One editor summed it up as “good, fruity, but not too sweet.” Definitely picnic-able.
Maison Cubi Rosé ($29 per 3L carton at Brooklyn Wine Exchange)
From a vineyard in the Côtes de Provence, this rosé promises aromas of apricot, peach, and strawberries, along with a perfect balance of acidity. We were all very into it—one editor even took it home to finish later.
From the Tank Rosé ($29 per 3L box at select states and various retailers)
Born out of a collaboration between two French winemakers, this wine was an editor favorite. People called it “tart and drinkable,” and “light and crisp.” Bonus: It’s lightweight for schlepping to drinking locations, and the vacuum-sealed pack keeps the wine fresh for a month after you’ve opened it.
Bota Box Mini Chardonnay ($5.99 per 500ml carton at Total Wine & More)
This medium-bodied chardonnay—which Antonsen loves for its convenience and versatility—offers aromas of citrus, ripe melon, and warm toasty oak. Again, not sure any of our editors’ palettes are refined enough to distinguish such things, however, we did find it to be solid, easy to drink, and not too sweet. Dry white fans, try this one.
Domane Wachau Gruner Veltliner ($14.99 at Wine.com)
Antonsen considers this the perfect dry and refreshing summer white, said to be sourced from grapes from the Austrian valley of Wachau. We all found this white to be delicious and high-quality tasting—as it should be for $15 (though, let’s be real, that’s still less than what two glasses of wine costs you at a bar in most cities).
Casal Garcia White ($4.09 at Portugal Vineyards)
The budget bottle of the twist-off bunch, my wine-store-owner friend said this wine is super-popular during the summer with Brooklynites. Now we know why: It’s sweet (but not too), just fizzy enough, and straight yummy.
Barrymore by Carmel Road Rosé of Pinot Noir ($23 at Carmel Road)
We like Drew Barrymore, so we wanted to like the wine-enthusiast-turned-maker’s rosé. Barrymore said it would be refreshing and perfect for sharing, and we can’t disagree. Two editors called it “good and smooth,” while one with a more sophisticated wine palette noted its “nice minerally taste.”
Mantlerhof Lossterrassen Gruner Veltliner ($19.96 at Long’s Wines & Liquors)
This white is the bottle to splurge on. A favorite of Biscieglia’s, she says it’s fresh and peppery—perfect for pairing with veggies or cheese at a picnic. Everyone on our staff also liked it, and our fashion editor noted that she’s used it to impress parents before because of its “sophistication and ability to pair well with food.” Done and done.
Be Bordo Cabernet Sauvignon ($7.79 at Get Wine Online)
A press release told us we could expect this French brand that recently launched its Bordeaux in the US to be “medium-bodied with intense, deep flavors and a hint of spiciness.” Nailed it: We editors liked it; to us it tasted tart, spicy, and dry—all in a good way.
A version of this article was originally published in May 2016.