Line 39 Spritzers, Pinot Noir, Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc

Cost: $13

What: Just in time for the hot days of summer we get a new refreshing wine drink called Line 39 Spritzers ($13/4 pack). Each of the three flavors features good wine, sparkling water and a hint of a natural flavor.

They are delicious and with just 5% alcohol, each small aluminum bottle contains only 100 calories. So if you are watching your weight and still want to drink wine, this is the drink to try.

I liked all three flavors, but I think my favorite was the Rosé, which has a hint of strawberry flavor added. It’s bright and refreshing. The strawberry flavor comes through clearly, but without any sweetness. It’s perfect for a light lunch, or an afternoon snack on the deck.

I also tried the Pinot Noir and the Sauvignon Blanc. I loved the strong black cherry and pomegranate flavor with a hint of red licorice. This tasted like a good Pinot Noir would taste.

The Sauvignon Blanc gets a shot of lemon, a flavor that was easy to identify as we sipped. It was great as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up with a handful of nuts.

Each aluminum bottle has a twist-off cap, so you can pour a little, put the cap back on and put it in the refrigerator or ice chest to stay cool. The bottle contains 250ml, or one-third of a regular sized bottle. With one aluminum bottle my wife and I each had one drink, so the packaging is very convenient.

The white aluminum is very attractive, as is the cute little four-pack carrier. The spritzer isn’t overly-carbonated, either, so it’s not like drinking a sparkling wine. Winemaker Steven DeCosta made everything in just the right proportion for a fresh, lively summer refresher.

Line 39 Spritzers join one of the fastest-growing categories of alcohol sales: sparkling low-alcohol beverages. According to Nielsen for the period ending January 23, 2021, the wine-based cocktail category grew exponentially, increasing 103.6% compared to average growth the last 52 weeks. That triple-digit growth continued for the 26 week, 13 week and 4 week time periods.

The category is especially important to Generation X and Millennial drinkers, whose numbers have grown steadily. But a product that tastes this good is going to appeal to all kinds of people, even geezers like me.

Winery: The brand is named after the 39th parallel, the latitude just north of Napa Valley where its first grapes came from. Now Line 39 makes wines from all over California.

They craft simple, honest and delicious wines that sell in the $10 range.

Line 39 is owned by Larkspur-based O’Neill Vintners & Distillers, which acquired it in 2014. Their wines include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, a red blend, and a Rosé. The spritzers are the most recent innovation.

The brand has grown rapidly because it delivers very good wine at a low price.

When Jeff O’Neill launched O’Neill Vintners in 2004, it quickly grew to become one of the largest contract producers of California wine and brandy. Now it is adding its own labels, such as Line 39.

Line 39 has access to grapes grown in the best wine regions because of their long-lasting relationships with California’s premier growers in areas such as Sonoma, Napa, Lodi and the Central Coast. They sell more than 500,000 cases a year.

Dreamland ribs, French fries, peas and white bread pair with the Line 39 spritzer.

Goes with: My wife Teri and I had these delicious spritzers with grilled ribs, French fries and peas. The ribs were extra special because I ordered them from Dreamland, one of my favorite barbecue houses. They are almost as good as the ones I make.

The ribs came with two bottles of sauce and a loaf of bread. Everything was packed in dry ice, so while we warmed up the ribs I played with the dry ice in water, producing bubbling “smoke” at the table.

Both the Pinot Noir and Rosé were terrific with the spicy ribs, but I liked the strawberry flavor in the Rosé just a little more. The light, refreshing spritzers were a perfect match for the ribs, which are kind of a heavy dinner.

I later had the Sauvignon Blanc with a handful of nuts for an afternoon snack, and it was perfect. I don’t usually start drinking wine until we have it with dinner, but the low-alcohol spritzer gave me the taste of wine without pushing me into an afternoon nap.

These spritzers will pair with just about any food. They will be perfect for picnics, afternoons on the lake or a Sunday brunch. We keep a few cans in the refrigerator so they’re ready when we need them.

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Bon apetit!

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