Selecting wine for your July Fourth celebration can be a challenge.
On the one hand, your party may last all day and into the night. The heat of the day and the length of the party calls for lighter wines with low alcohol—white and rosé territory.
On the other hand, if your fete’s fare will include barbecue, hamburgers, or steaks on the grill in the evening, that calls for reds that can hang with fats and rich sauces.
If your party is a large one, you will have a full palette of palates, from Barefoot Bubbly and moscato mavens to Caymus and Silver Oak pocketbook-pounding zealots.
• Determine who will be drinking wine and who will opt for beer or other beverages. Rule of thumb: two drinks per person in the first hour or so, then one drink per hour after that. There are five five-ounce pours in a 750 ml bottle of wine. Do your math. Fudge upward.
• Determine what wine your guests like. Ask them if you don’t know.
• Pair what guests like with food you serve. Beef bash? Go heavier on reds; Argentine malbec is a good middle-of-the-road choice. Fried chicken pairs with sparkling, including lambrusco and prosecco, off-dry riesling, or chenin blanc. Roasted chicken pairs with sauvignon blanc and chardonnay, so does syrah/shiraz and pinot noir, which gives you crossover opportunities with lighter meats and fried fish.
• Zinfandel. Robust zins are high alcohol, low-to-moderate tannins, and are classic pair with everything from pork and beef to lamb, brisket, and venison. Then there is white zinfandel—more than 80 percent of zin grapes go to make this low-alcohol, slightly sweet blush wine. Be nice, have some white zin on ice.
You don’t have to jump solo on the cost grenade. Have each guest bring a dish and wine. Maybe you supply the meat. Tell them what you are cooking and ask them to bring their favorite pair. If needed, offer suggestions because you read columns like this. Then joyously toast the freedom to gather on our national day, even freedom to pair white zin with a thick red steak.
Last round: July Fourth combines two things Americans love—alcohol and explosives.
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