By Rick Riozza

I knew it was going to be a nice day—no matter the heat, when Jimmy invited me over for breakfast. Of course we’re speaking of a liquid breakfast that would be featuring tasty & refreshing brews and wines to help us through the summertime—at the lowest of prices.

LQ Wine, 46520 Washington St.  La Quinta, CA 92253, (760) 771-8466, is probably the friendliest retail wine & craft beer shop in our valley. Owners Greg Hansen and Jimmy Absmeierwere already milling around in their cool air-conditioned shop when I arrived early in the day.

Celebrating their fourth year, this wine and beer shop is not only well known for some of the best priced wine bottles in town, but they have a great brew following in the valley as they probably carry over 100 craft beers and ales! It seems that every craft brew aficionado knows about this place already. Read on for a couple of great recommendations of some summer suds.

Last year when I totally cleared off my wine bar, set up a big bucket of ice and put out some beer nuts, some of you thought I was nuts—not having a refreshing quaffer left to reach for. Ok-ok, this time we’ll keep things equal and simple. Two wines, two brews and a fat flatscreen TV—and maybe a pizza too (and spicy wings—with real blue cheese dip…).

So as I arrive at LQ, I catch Greg and Jimmy discussing that they are of the opinion that their wine prices are simply too low. So what are they going to do? “Well”, says Greg, “We’ve made the commitment to our customers—we’re going to continue to be here for them throughout the summer.” Now I say that’s admirable—especially since I had offered to treat them to hang out with me at a villa on the Cote d’Azur this August.

Yup!” Jimmy chimes in, “we’re even having our Saturday beer & wine tasting events starting back up. We want to continue to be the best place to come to in the summer to cool off, relax and enjoy an array of tasty beverages at the best price.” LQ is by all means a wine & beer retail store, but it has a quaint little bar that—along with the special weekly tastings—anyone, anytime can come by, purchase a chilled bottle of wine or beer and sit & enjoy.

White refreshing wines are the call of this season. But we are a demanding bunch, and we want our wines to also kick-in with exciting and interesting flavors that exhibit enough complexities to match them with all the munchies and with all of the imaginable fare we can throw on the grill.

Now we know all the women love a Pinot Grigio—and now this is a Pinot Grige we men can embrace: Zenato Pinot Grigio at $10.99. The bottle is a gem! “Zesty Fruitiness!” is everyone’s first comments when tasting this summer beauty.

It’s got that refreshing hit that you get from a sharp Sauvignon Blanc but without all of that bracing acidity. Definitely a 10am to 5pm sipper that can go great with all sorts of hors d’oeuvres, salads, soups, chicken and fish.

Funny—Jimmy and I were just shaking our heads thinking about how they can grow magnificent grapes in Italy, harvest them, produce wine, bottle it, and then ship it across the ocean and across land and we can sit here and enjoy the thing for only ten bucks & some change—wild!

Of course we need to treat ourselves once in a while. In wine parlance, that means generally we’ll spend $40 plus for that special indulgence. LQ to the rescue! The luxurious Sika Chardonnay at $25.99 is the equivalent of a voluptuous super-star: well-built, classy, and gorgeous! (Psst–check out its pedigree on-line).

Tasting notes: “A huge floral and white peach nose—oily citrus and tropical fruit jump from the glass of this powerful, broad but beautifully layered Chard with perfectly balanced acidity and a pure, lengthy finish.” Hey—for all your Newton Chardonnay fans, let’s just say this one “flys” under the radar at almost half the price! Got it?

Now when LQ goes ahead and picks a couple of brews out of their huge selection, we know the deal is on! Hopf Helle Weizen500ml bottle at $6.99,this classic wheat beer has a slightly fruity taste with aromas of banana and clove as a hefeweisen should. Also some lemon notes that blend well with the sweet and bready malt notes. And to keep things lively there’s some mild tartness with a sprightly carbonation yielding a crisp dry finish. Perfect for a hot summer.

Besides the Hopf Helle, and on top of the list for value—a real steal is the heat at $3.99! is Brewery Ommegang’s Fleur De Houblon Summer Ale. Big delicately bubbly white head with good retention and some filmy lacing on the glass; the aroma is strong with Belgian yeast and citrus (grapefruit?). Floral (lavender?) tasting hops with an exceptional mouthfeel; pillowy soft, light and smooth on the palate. No hint of alcohol—an outstanding summer beer.

P.S. While at the shop, Stone Brewery delivered the rare “Enjoy By (this date)”IPA brew. The bottles delivered had “7.14.13” on the label. This must be the freshest ale in town! Thank God I got a bottle. Even with the 2-bottle limit, it was sold out that day! Next delivery: OctoberCool, see you at LQ!