There's plenty of summertime heat left in September before autumn arrives in earnest. Satisfy your red-wine cravings with Grenache, a grape that thrives in hot places and pairs well with warm-weather fare.
Grenache is most famously grown in the southern Rhône valley of France and the Domaine du Bois de St Jean Côtes du Rhône "L'Intrépide" 2009 ($14, Vignobles LVDH) is an absolutely stunning example. Heady aromas of cherries, roasted meat, and herbes de Provence give way to a palate absolutely saturated with pure cherry fruit. The finish makes for a wine easily mistaken for one of Côtes de Rhône's bigger siblings, like Gigondas or Vacqueyras.
Shiraz may be the best-known variety of grape grown in Australia, but Alpha Box & Dice "Tarot" 2008 ($16, Constantine Wines) proves that Grenache thrives there as well. This plush example is an easy-drinking festival of red fruits—cherries, berries, and plums. A hint of earthiness lends finesse to this smooth grilling companion.
The most affordable way to get into Grenache is via Spain, where it goes by the name Garnacha. Check out Mirone Selección Old Vines Garnacha 2009 ($9, Monsieur Touton) from the region of Campo de Borja. This ridiculous value boasts the hallmark flavors of red berries and cherry and also offers plenty of finesse and a satisfying earthiness. If you're cooking up sausages or other spicy foods, this is a great accompaniment.