The products listed here were independently selected by a member of the editorial staff. Should you choose to purchase a product through a link on this page, we may receive an affiliate commission.
Texas has its hands in every industry, so it should be no surprise that the world of wine and viticulture has a home in the Lone Star State. There are over 400 wineries and 5,000 vineyard acres in the state, making Texas the fifth-largest wine producer in the United States. Wine labels from Texas can be found in markets and on restaurant wine lists across the country, and local vintners are finally getting national recognition.
The state has eight official American Viticultural Areas, also known as grape-growing regions, including tourist-friendly areas like the High Plains and Hill Country. While vignerons there do grow popular European grapes like cabernet sauvignon, sangiovese, and chardonnay, you'll also find a range of lesser-known varietals such as tannat, mourvèdre, montepulciano, and tempranillo.
If the sheer variety of flavor isn’t enough to intrigue you, consider that when you’re purchasing a bottle produced entirely within state lines, you’re supporting the local community—and that’s always a good thing. Whether you’re an oenophile or just love all things Texas, here are 16 wines that should be in your kitchen:
The name of this red wine says it all: TexItalia, a fusion of hardscrabble Texas High Plains terroir and Italian-style varietals that are so well-suited together, you’ll question why it wasn’t thought of sooner. The label's imagery—a boot spur hugging the country of Italy—is clever, making this bottle a keeper even after you’ve finished the wine within.
Grown in the Lahey Vineyard in the Texas High Plains, alicante is a true teinturier (red flesh and red skin grape), a surprisingly rare crop. This wine is a fruit-forward, full-bodied red, with notes of dark berries, cacao, and olives on the nose. The rich flavor of this grape is similar to those of a grenache and pairs well with equally intense foods such as BBQ, Tex-Mex, and hardy pastas. Alicante Bouschet is also a good wine to age and open up for special occasions or holidays.
Even though these grapes came from an older vine, which often results in a lower yield of grapes, the quality is not compromised. The collection of Bordeaux varietals in the Hunter include a full-bodied merlot, its cousin malbec, and a small percentage of cabernet sauvignon. You’ll get an aroma of rose and hibiscus piercing through the accents of cedar and blackberry with a bit of clove that gives it a minty cocoa finish. Although you can open this wine at any time of your liking, allowing it to age will make each sip extra special.
GSM is a red blend wine that stands for grenache, syrah, and mourvèdre. GSM wines, popular in the south of France, are known for their bright fruit color, aromas of ripe fruit, dried sage, and herbs, and a grippy, pepper-and-herb finish. Enjoy this medium-bodied wine at the dinner table with short ribs and polenta or Tomahawk pork chops due to its savory, earthy taste and dark fruit flavors of tart cherry, currant, and red plum.
What is pet-nat, you ask? One of the oldest forms of champagne making, petillant naturel was accidentally discovered by the French when they noticed that some of their still wine would naturally re-ferment in the bottle, creating carbonated wine. The sparkling beverage is made quickly at the beginning of harvest, and is ready to drink the same year. A fruity, naturally made bubbly wine from Sandy Road Vineyards—a family-owned boutique winery in the Texas Hill Country—Estate Petnat is your go-to for any celebratory occasion or next romantic picnic date.
If you haven’t heard of picpoul blanc grapes, you’re not alone. Think of it as being the better version of Chardonnay, a more common white wine. The Rivenburgh Wine Picpoul Blanc from Kerrville Hills Winery has distinctive character, with a rich, palate-coating texture and loads of depth. You’ll get aromas of yellow roses (the Texas Flower makes its debut), and maybe even fresh pineapple. When drinking, you may receive flavors of salty and tropical notes. This is a great bottle to gift to a white wine lover.
Sangiovese is the key grape variety in Tuscany used for chianti, brunello, and vino nobile, and has established a strong foothold here in the Lone Star State—especially on the Texas High Plains. The Ron Yates Sangiovese gives off dried cherry and toasty oak aromas, with flavors of red plum and blueberries. As a subtle and smooth win, it’s an easy drink, even for non-wine drinkers.
Ab Astris is a must-visit winery when visiting the Hill Country. Aside from grenache, the 12-acre vineyard also grows tannat, souzao, clairette blanche, petite pirah, and montepulciano. For this vintage, expect oaky flavors to shine through due to the 30 months it was barreled in 30 percent new french oak and 70 percent neutral oak for 30 months. It has a bright color, with notes of eucalyptus, fresh cranberry and baking spices on the nose, and cranberry and butterscotch on the palate. Pair it with anything from pork katsu to vegetable-focused dishes, or simply create a tasty cheese board with an emphasis on aged gouda.
If you’re not on the rosé bandwagon, are you even a wine fan in 2022? This slightly effervescent rosé has a cool name and will bring you back to the lazy days of summer, no matter when you drink it. Though rosés tend to be on the lighter side, this one offers a lovely range on the palate of sweet to savory to dry.
When opening Bending Branch’s Tannat wine, expect to taste flavors like red plum, cedar, and rhubarb pie. The notes pair well with filet mignon, aged cheddar, and pork belly. This year, the wine won a Double Gold medal from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, a Gold medal from the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo Wine Competition, and a Silver at the Houston Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition.
If you've never heard of Montepulciano, you're not alone. The grape is an Italian red variety from the Adriatic coast in the d'Abruzzo region of Southern Italy. Rich in taste, the Montepulciano is barrel-aged in neutral oak for two years, allowing a process called micro-oxidation. This process enhances the smoothness of the flavors, and you'll taste the grape on the first sip. This wine pairs well with savory meat and pasta dishes such as lasagna, ragu, tagliatelle, and beef brisket.
Rosé has all the freshness of white wine with the soul of a red while still being exceptionally versatile. Because of a challenging year in 2021 for whites and rosé, Pedernales Cellars had to get a bit creative by making rosé through a process called saignee. Saignee involves “bleeding” off some of the juice from red wine (before it ferments) and fermenting it separately — leaving a lovely, soft rosé. This wine is perfect on a hot summer day, relaxing poolside with your friends, or alongside a charcuterie board and light dinner. With each sip, you’ll smell peach, apricot and pear with a hint of rose petals.
Wines containing tempranillo grapes frequently appear on Texas wine lists because it's a star variety for local vintners. The Tempranillo Black is from the black grape variety native to Spain and is widely grown to make full-bodied red wines. The name is an ode to the Spanish word temprano, meaning "early," and refers to the fact that this grape ripens several weeks earlier than most Spanish red grapes. Spicewood's version of the Spanish grape has notes of figs with flavors of blackberries and cocoa powder. Enjoy this wine with pork tamales or chicken parmigiana.
Another award-winning wine—half the price of the Tannat—is a bold dry red wine known as mourvèdre. You'll catch a whiff of smokiness and taste hints of olive, mushrooms, and black fruit flavors, providing an overall rustic yet elegant taste. If you enjoy merlot or want to know what Texas would taste like if it was a wine, this is for you. The Messina Hof wine pairs well with smoked red meats seasoned with spice or fresh black pepper. If you're looking to buy in person, Messina Hof Harvest Green Winery & Kitchen is just a half-hour drive west of Downtown Houston.
The 2020 Sauvignon Blanc by Llano Estacado, located right outside of Lubbock in the High Plains, is an affordable ode to European classics. This intensely aromatic wine has notes of ripe citrus, fresh green herbs, and exotic tropical fruits. Try this (chilled) wine with brunch by pairing it with aromatic foods like herbed chicken, green salads or seafood like redfish, tilapia and scallops.
Although you can’t go wrong with many wines from McPherson Cellars, located in Lubbock, this wine hits the spot. As soon as you open the beautifully labeled bottle, you’ll smell a blend of red fruits like strawberry and cranberry and a soft hint of fresh roses. You’ll taste orange citrus and red berry fruits and flowers. Pair this wine with anything from seafood and salads to fruits and small bites.