Photograph by Bartholomew Cooke
A lazy August afternoon is no time for pretense, so save the cellar-worthy Pétrus for dinner with your prospective in-laws. Wine stores are awash these days in affordable, easy-drinking stuff—red, white, pink, even sparkling—that masterfully plays a supporting role, happy to take a back seat to crusty sandwiches, coleslaw, chips, and onion dip. Just steer clear of brawny, high-alcohol reds and oaky Chardonnays, which are far too heavy for any outing that might (fingers crossed) involve tetherball. Rob Willey
1. Cristaliano Brut Rosé NV [$9]
No one's going to mistake it for Krug, but this fruity sparkler from Spain stands up to just about anything you can grill.
2. 2008 Grner Veltliner [$14]
You'll applaud the fact that this citrusy, lip-smacking Austrian crowd-pleaser comes by the liter—and then kick yourself for not buying a case.
3. 2007 Xarmant Txakolina [$16]
In the Basque country they pound this bracing, effervescent white like beer. Its briny minerality begs for ceviche or lobster rolls.
4. 2008 Charles & Charles Rosé [$12]
A crisp, Syrah-based wine from Washington that's more vibrant than most American rosé, which makes it a perfect match for anything with heat.
5. 2007 Puzelat Le Telquel [$14]
This quirky Gamay-based Loire Valley red has tons of acidity and an earthy funk that can round out a spread of cured meats.
The Waiter's Corkscrew__
Courtesy of Williams-Sonoma.com
Whatever purpose high-tech wine-opening gizmos serve, they have no business at a picnic table. Wielding a proper waiter's corkscrew (like this one from Laguiole) hardly qualifies as exertion. And, done properly, it restores a forgotten bit of ceremony to opening a bottle—even if that bottle cost less than the hot-dog buns. ($125, laguiole.com)