These days, the wines offered up for backyards, parks, beaches, and other summer destinations come—more often than not—in colorful cans, eco-friendly boxes, and even adorable little single-serve plastic cups. (Single serve? Really? That is not enough for any beach festivity.) While I’m not passing judgment on the quality of the beverages in any of those cute packages (and I might be known to tuck a can in my purse on occasion), it’s an undeniable truth that, for the most part, their job isn’t really to be great wine.
Which begs the question: Why should the wine you’re going to drink with a salad buffet by the lake, with cold roast chicken at Shakespeare in the park, or at a clambake on the beach be any less great than the bottle you drink at home? Sure, you might not want to pull out your most expensive vintages to transport off-site. But there’s a whole world of wines that don’t stake a claim to investment quality yet definitely deliver layers of interesting flavors to match the flamboyant foods we tend to take outside. Here are five bottles we’ll be reaching for this summer.