5 Fab Alternatives to Your Favorite Pinot Noir

Ahh late summer- it’s about the time of year when you’re just so sick of light whites and roses and wish you could just have a nice red!   Well, crank up the AC and take a peek at some of our favorite lighter-bodied reds (that aren’t Pinot Noir!)

2014 Fulkerson Dornfelder ($13.99)
It’s a safe bet that if a red wine hails from a cooler climate, it will be likely to have higher acidity and lower body- perfect for late summer! Dornfelder is a grape that’s German in origin, and bred to withstand cool weather without rotting. As the climate of the Finger Lakes is pretty similar to that of Germany, the grape flourishes here, as well. Dornfelders will typically have a deeper garnet color than many light-bodied reds and can hold up against a more pronounced oak influence, so this example from Fulkerson will give the illusion of being more powerful than it really is, while the firm backbone of acidity keeps it from being overwhelming.

2014 La Posta Bonarda ($14.99)
Bonarda is a super fun grape that definitely does not see enough love, as it’s often overshadowed by Argentina’s sweetheart Malbec. The grape originates in Italy, and you can find some killer bottlings there, as well (see: Luzzano Carlino) but Bonarda is actually better known in Argentina, where it’s the second most widely planted red grape. Bonarda often exhibits savory herbal notes along with the ripe red and black currant notes, giving an air of complexity and sophistication and making these wines perfect for pairing with a variety of dishes from fatty fish to chicken to beef.

2013 Masciarelli Montepulciano ($10.99)
If ever there were an all-purpose red, Montepulciano is it. These wines pair with almost anything and are so friendly and likeable due to the soft acidity, low tannin and fruit-forward palate. Although Montepulciano is not often seen outside of Italy, it is one of the most widely planted red grapes in Italy and can be found in every major wine-growing appellation in central Italy. Think: red berries, especially cherry, with hints of spice.

2014 La Vigne en Veron Chinon ($11.99)
Cabernet Franc is my favorite, favorite red grape! One of the parent grapes of Cabernet Sauvignon, the Francs showcase the same black fruit and herbal character but with light- to medium-body and mouthwatering acidity to add structure, instead of heavy tannin. Though Cab Franc is one of the permitted grapes in Bordeaux, you’ll find it more often in cooler climates like the Loire, and it also flourishes particularly well in the Finger Lakes.

2014 Evodia ($10.99)
Evodia has been on so many wine recommendation lists I’ve made, and will probably continue to be on them just until about the end of days. This is a wine that always over-delivers for the price and is so easy-drinking that it appeals to fans of Cab, Pinot and even sweet red drinkers! Low acid, low tannin, full flavor and a hearty kick of alcohol, the Evodia is a superb example of why Spanish red wines are some of the best values in the world.