July 4th wine

Patriots patronize American wines on July 4th, but which should a proud patriot pour?

Safe choice: Zinfandel. Quintessential American. California’s gift to the world. Zins hold their own against barbeque and heavier fare. Safe, not necessarily best.

Zins are hot wines. High alcohol, spicy mouth. July 4th picnics often are all-day affairs. Hot day. Hot dogs. Potato salad. Chips, dips, splashes in the pool. Drink Zin early, pass out before fireworks begin.

The Fourth calls for less alcoholic, sweeter, chilled, sip-all-day wines. Think rosé. Even if you are a pucker-mouth Cab lover, relent—it will do your soul good. Rosé is not pretend-wine-drinker Kool-Aid. Done right, rosé is real wine for real wine drinkers. You can even stick with all-American theme by pouring White Zinfandel, although hard-core wine lovers may start a revolution.

Finally, for the end of the evening, consider Madeira, the Portuguese wine from the Madeira Islands. Granted, not American, but it was wine used to toast the Declaration of Independence, and Betsy Ross enjoyed it on her side table while sewing our flag. Good enough for first heroes, good enough for you while fighting back tears as our flag is still there amid the firecracker’s red glare. Warning: Madeira is very robust and fortified (17-20 percent alcohol)—a little goes a long, long way.


• Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel. Juicy, supple, zesty, California Zin. $12

• Leacock’s Madeira Malmsey. Malmsey is richest, sweetest style. $26

• Alexander Valley Vineyards Sangiovese Rosé. Strawberries and watermelon flavors—hard to get more Fourth friendly. California. $14

• Beringer White Zinfandel. California. Sweet, fruity, cheap. $6