This is also the time to start thinking about California zinfandels, such as the four single-vineyard Ravenswood wines reviewed here. If you are a Napa cabernet fan, we also have a couple of those, as well as some affordable reds from Argentina and South Africa.
So fire up the grill and try one of a variety of chilled whites and sparkling wines from our list while your steak is cooking.
Wines for review were provided by their producers or importers at no cost to the writer.
Stella Prosecco Extra Dry NV ($14). Lightly sweet but balanced with good vanilla and lemon flavors.
Gratien & Meyer Crémant de Loire Brut NV ($14). Tingling bubbles with a lovely floral nose and some clover/honeycomb flavors.
Beronia Rueda Verdejo 2017 ($12). Nice spicy flavors, almost like cinnamon, with tart green notes.
Gioacchino Garofoli “Macrina” Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore 2017 ($12). From a classification in the Marches region with a long history, this one has lots of floral and clover notes that would make for good spring drinking.
Ironstone Lodi Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ($14). A little gamey in flavor and texture, but still with some floral notes due to the addition of some viognier.
Nik Weis “Urban” Mosel Riesling 2017 ($15). Entry-level riesling with sweet/fruity flavors — like eating fresh grapes.
3 Badge Plungerhead Lodi Unoaked Chardonnay 2016 ($15). Basic chard, with mellow apple and tropical fruitiness.
Nobilo “Icon” Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($18). A rich, complex wine with dark green fruits along with some lime and a certain spiciness.
Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Fume Blanc 2016 ($18). Very elegant with lightly spiced, lightly honeyed fruit, yet very crisp and dry in the finish.
Gioacchino Garofoli “Podium” Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore 2015 ($19). An ideal pairing would be with smoked salmon, as most of the complex flavors are in its crisp finish — a little taffy, mild bitters, light tannins.
Gonzalez Byass “Tio Pepe” Palomino Fino Sherry NV ($19). This has always been a favorite wine, one that used to be served directly from a cask in London bars. It is a great sipping wine — very dry, crisp, clean but with a dominant nutty flavor.
Lloyd “Prescription” Clarksburg Chardonnay 2016 ($20). Lean and crisp — great with a BLT and chips.
Lusco Rias Baixas Albarino 2016 ($22). Good texture and flavors — a little spicy and a little petillant.
Lloyd Carneros Chardonnay 2016 ($40). Very good, with creamy fruit flavors, baking spices, and a tad of sweet butter.
Amalaya Salta Malbec 2017 ($11). Very gamey and tangy with some bitters — try it with steak tartare.
Côté Mas “Intense” Sud de France NV ($13/1 liter). A touch sweet, but a good barbecue wine chilled — dark berry fruitiness and a touch of chalkiness.
Simonsig Stellenbosch Pinotage 2015 ($18). Gamey in tone with some good cherry flavor, though those impressions do fade a bit toward the finish.
Colomé Salta Malbec 2015 ($24). Nice and edgy, a good combo of fruit and savory notes with exotic spices.
Ravenswood “Teldeschi” Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 2015 ($33). The lowest priced of four Ravenswood single-vineyard zins featured, Teldeschi is very creamy and very seductive with flavors of cherries and milk chocolate combined with a silky mouth feel and lots of dusty tannins.
Ravenswood “Big River” Alexander Valley Zinfandel 2015 ($35). A surprisingly light zin, almost like a pinot noir with its cherry cola notes — but whatever its profile, it tastes quite good.
Ravenswood “Belloni” Russian River Zinfandel 2015 ($37). An excellent wine, very fragrant and floral, with a streak of violet cream and savory edges.
Ravenswood “Old Hill” Sonoma Valley Zinfandel 2015 ($49). Brawling and assertive, rich and complex, plummy yet creamy — a lovely study in contrasts that is quite enjoyable.
Lloyd Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2015 ($50). A big but very nice pinot with spicy, rooty fruits and a good balancing earthiness.
Stony Hill Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($71). A classic cab with flavors of tart berries, lean bacon, and savory spices — a definite bloody steak wine.
Chimney Rock Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 ($80). Very nice — big and rich with blackberry and bitter chocolate flavors and dusty tannins.