The summer solstice is special time, marked on ancient sun-dagger stones and viewed in awe since the dawn of mankind.
How can a modern wine lover celebrate this long Friday (or fudge the party to Saturday, the second longest day)?
If you can practice moderation while enjoying excess, here’s an idea: a longest day of wine. If you are not yet that Sybaritically disposed, pick specific episodes to toast the day.
Start with sunup and coffee enhanced with a splash of brandy. E&J VSOP or Paul Mason VSOP nicely smooth out java. Do not over-pour—you have a lot of sunlight ahead. Brandy is distilled wine (from Dutch word “brandewijn” or “burnt wine”); VSOP stands for Very Superior Old Pale and means it was aged in oak barrels for four or more years.
Then comes breakfast, and any country club doyen will tell you that means mimosa. Use dry sparkling wine, not sweet. Gruet Brut or Blanc de Noirs (both $16) work well. Use fresh-squeezed orange juice. Pour equal parts sparkling wine and orange juice; the sparkling goes in first, followed by the juice. Chill everything. Complements scrambled eggs, or anything else for that matter.
During the day, while you are doing chores, sip on sangria. Not insipid, store-bought, fake-fruity-flavored swill. No, enjoy a prepared-the-day-before, refreshing, made-from-scratch sangria. There are lots of recipes; key is to marinate tropical fruits in wine for 12-24 hours. We gave you a recipe two weeks ago. If you clipped and saved, good for you. If not, you can find it online.
If you want a low-hassle, twist/pull-and-pour alternative, enjoy vino verdes from Portugal—refreshing summer pleasers with low alcohol. Famega, Broadbent, Alianca, Casal Garcia are labels to look for (all less than $11). Serve well chilled.
If your longest-day includes hot dogs, Argentinian malbecs pair with franks and California chardonnays with buns. Take your pick, or pour both and experiment.
If dogs don’t hunt for you, cabs, zins, and blends easily pair with burgers, BBQ, and outdoor-grilled steaks. Caprock Winery’s Tascana Rosso is a Texas sangiovese play. Given the day, chill the reds a tad.
Eventually the sun sets even on the longest day. Last call sips include port/porto—tasty and sweet; Maderia—complex and sweet; or a return to the brandy that started the day—depth, power, and a nice way to bracket your drawn-out dalliance with daylight and decadence.
Give your loved one a hug. Days grow shorter now. Darkness cometh again.
Last round: I don’t always drink wine, but… OK, yes I do.