We celebrate a 240th birthday Monday. God bless America.
If wine wins over beer this weekend, some help with pairings for festive fares.
• Hot dogs: Keep it simple. With ketchup, mustard, onion, relish, pickles, sauerkraut, and other mish-mash of condiments providing flavors, Argentine malbec may calm things down, but you can also go Texan with variety of Texas cabs and blends. Christoval Vineyard’s tempranillo delivers food-friendly acidity and bit of edginess; if you like sweet, try Christoval’s Sparkling Almond.
• Burgers: Juicy meat, tomatoes, onions, condiments aplenty, and cheese calls for big boy to hang with cavalcade of flavors. Bordeaux blends rise to the occasion. Bonny Doon Vineyard A Proper Claret and Francis Coppola Black Label Claret can manage. Meritage wine like Lyeth Estates Meritage Sonoma County also works.
• Chicken: Fried or grilled, chardonnay is natural pairing. Avoid butter bomb, over-oaked swill. Chardonnay can be made in so many ways, you gotta like one, but clean and dry works best with food. Tom Gore Vineyards Chardonnay lands in middle between austere and over-the-top. Alexander Valley Vineyards Chardonnay is widely available. Ponzi Vineyards Chardonnay Reserve Willamette Valley is premium alternative. Another route: Gruet Brut from New Mexico’s superior sparkling maker; pop a cork in syncopation with fireworks.
• Grilled steak: Win with zin. Zinfandel’s high alcohol, reserved tannins, easy-drinking savoir-faire fits well with red meat and a party. Michael David Winery is zin master: Earthquake Lodi Zinfandel and Seven Deadly Zins. Bogle, Jamieson Ranch, Ravenswood, Cline, Steele, Rancho Zabaco are widely available.
• Shrimp, wrapped in bacon or boiled: Shrimp’s subtle sweetness pairs with dry riesling. Eroica is joint effort of Ste. Michelle and Dr. Loosen, two biggies in wine world. Widely available, delicious.
• Apple pie: Mom and America, who doesn’t love both? Pair here is sweet, late-harvest riesling, a Sauternes, or—what the heck you’ve consumed enough wine by now it doesn’t matter—a sweet, cheap Barefoot Wines offering, some of it is bubbly. No one will care in the evening or remember in the morning.
Last round: If you ask me to hold your glass of wine at July 4th party, I will. However, do not bank on the glass having wine in it when you return.