By Barbara Hay ~
The Fourth of July is all about celebrating our nation’s independence with colorful fireworks, outdoor picnics and barbecues. It’s a safe bet to assume that once the weather gets warm, no matter how big you like your wine, you shy away from your usual big Cabs. Unfortunately, a lot of red drinkers, avoid reaching for a glass of white, no matter how delicious it is.
This holiday loves all that is grilled, with burgers topping the list. Since the best burgers are juicy and full of flavor, they are perfect to pair with a Claret or Bordeaux blend. The traditional Bordeaux blend consists of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot in varying percentages. Because it’s Independence day, we suggest an American spin on this classic blend with Californian reds, like St. Francis Claret Red; Newton Claret, Napa County; or Murphy Goode All-In Claret.
For something fun and a little sweeter, try B Side Napa Valley Red Blend which adds a little Dolcetto to the blend.
Cabernet Franc is a classic component of any Bordeaux, and, as a single varietal, it makes a great summer wine since it’s best served with a slight chill.
You’ll be happy to know that New Jersey makes some pretty fine Cabernet Franc — full-bodied, medium tannins, and plump fruit that makes these reds so easy to gulp. Plus, it’s easily accessible—nearly every one of New Jersey’s 48 wineries produce it. Our local favorite is 4JGs Cabernet Franc from Colts Neck.
What’s more American than a mouth-watering, all beef, grilled hot dog? Whether sliced as an appetizer or in a bun loaded with all the “fixin’s”, hot dog wine pairing is simply solved with a bold, juicy California Merlot.
You have a plate piled high with barbecue?
Merlot is the perfect accompaniment, because the big, juicy, ripe fruit and slightly dry finish won’t clash with even the boldest barbecue flavors! It’s easy to find great tasting Merlot under $15 and two favorites for are: Raymond R Collection California Merlot and Washington state’s Columbia Crest Grand Estates Columbia Merlot.
If you’re going to splurge and grill a steak, go all-out with the All-American red: Zinfandel. Our favorite is Seghesio Family Vineyards Zinfandel, Sonoma County . If you’re prone to temptation, 7 Deadly Zins Zinfandel from Michael David Winery may be hard to resist, while Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel is fun, delicious and inexpensive. Zinfandel is always a great grilled steak pairing.
If you’re grilling seafood, think white. Don’t reach for the same old Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or Pinot Grigio—go for something different. Grilled shrimp is an ideal appetizer at any gathering. The natural sweetness of the shrimp makes it a perfect match for a subtly sweet white wine such as Dr. Konstantin Frank Dry Riesling or the semi-dry Hazlitt Riesling, both hail from New York’s Finger Lakes Region.
If Riesling is “too sweet” for your palate, try Torrontes, an Argentine white with a distinct nose of apricots and peaches. With its light body and crisp finish, it’s a great alternative to Pinot Grigio. Crios de Susana Balbo, Torrontes and Alamos Torrontes —both from Argentina—can be had for around $13 or less.
For fresh salads and vegetarian dishes, give Grüner Veltliner a taste. Grüner is light and can be slightly sweet, with subtle spice, white pepper and citrus notes, perfect for veggies (especially asparagus). It’s delicious when chilled. Zocker Grüner Veltliner, Edna Valley , California and Dancing Coyote Grüner Veltliner, Clarksburg , California are definite must trys.
For an all-around summer white, look for an American Viognier—it’s an endlessly feminine white wine with one of the prettiest floral noses anywhere. Virginia is known for Viognier and what could be better than Jefferson Vineyards Viognier? Jefferson Vineyards is just outside Charlottesville; the wine’s clear green bottle features a replica of Thomas Jefferson’s signature on its label. The nice full body and high acidity make it super food-friendly, but it drinks well on its own, especially when toasting fireworks!
There are so many wines and so many great American wines available that you can turn this Independence day into the red, the white and you!
So, open a bottle and toast our 242 years of freedom!