Just because the weather is warm doesn't mean you can't enjoy red wine. But instead of the usual choices like Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon, here are three delicious varieties you may not have considered.
Brachetto is a grape that is typically used to make somewhat sweet, delightfully light, sparkling red wines in Italy. It's rare to find a dry one—and one that isn't bubbly—but Matteo Correggia "Anthos" 2009 ($20, Bacchus Importers Ltd.) is just such a wine. Its cool, red-berry flavors, slight effervescence, and juicy demeanor are refreshing, even when it's hot outside. It's also a great match for spicy barbecue sauces.
Argentine Malbec is a popular pick for grill-centric meals, but so is Carménère, Chile's answer to Malbec. Like Malbec, it was brought to South America from France and has flourished. Its dark red-fruit character is on display in the Chilensis Carménère Reserva 2009 ($11, Prestige Beverage Group). It's a useful red that pairs well with many types of food and is the quintessential weekday pizza/burger/steak/red-sauce wine.
An enjoyable but not-so-easy-to-pronounce wine is a ruby-red discovery from Austria—Anton Iby Zweigelt "Classic" 2008 ($17, Bacchus Importers Ltd.). Zweigelt is a relatively modern grape variety, having been developed in the 1920s, but its appeal is timeless. This wine is a mid-weight all-star with an appealing combination of supple texture and bright, lively fruit. You'll want to have more than one bottle on hand, especially when you're sharing it with guests.