Tomorrow is Independence Day. For most of us, that translates into a day off from work, and hopefully, a meat-filled feast shared with family and friends. We can't deny that wine may not be the very first beverage that comes to mind when most people are shopping for their Fourth of July libations. But for all the die-hard oenophiles out there just like us, what could be more patriotic to drink alongside the inevitable array of burgers and barbecue fare than some good ol' American red, white and rosé?
Serving wine at cookouts can be tricky. There are all sorts of potentially challenging elements to contend with: spicy barbecue sauce, vinegar-y dressing-doused pasta and vegetable salads...you get the idea. Then there's the matter of the blazing hot temperatures outside -- no one wants to (or really should be) downing glasses of anything with sky-high alcohol levels. Your goal should be to score bottles that can work with a grill-heavy menu but also please peeps who like to drink their wine with...well, more wine. With that in mind, we give you four fantastic, made-in-the-USA wines to help you celebrate Independence Day.
The Red: Syncline "Subduction" Red ($20): We learned long ago that Côtes du Rhône reds make for some of the most food-friendly wines around. But since we're keeping these recommendations 100 percent American, we looked for the next best thing and recalled our recent sampling of a sumptuous take on CdR from Washington State. True to its old world inspiration, this is a juicy, full-bodied blend of nearly equal parts syrah and mourvedre, rounded out with splashes of cinsault, carignan and counoise. In a less judicious winemaker's hands, a bunch of serious red grape varieties like these could quickly take you on a ride to boozytown -- even though it's full of spicy, dark berry fruit, it's still got plenty of fresh acidity to make it thirst-quenching, not hangover-inducing. And all that adds up to a wine that practically screams for meat: We'd drink it with barbecued baby-back ribs, burgers or black-and-blue steaks.
The White: Artesa Carneros Chardonnay ($15): A couple of months ago, we launched a campaign to help you chardonnay-phobes out there recognize that there's more to these wines than their overplayed reputation for being nothing but the vinuous equivalent of a stick of butter. Having said that, there's a time and a place (not to mention plenty of people who still have a hankering) for chards that show a little toast -- and that time is anytime there's anything smoked or grilled on the table. While there's definitely some nutty, oaky action happening with the Artesa, plenty of citrus, crisp pineapple and pear also make appearance at this party. So if you spot any lemony chicken kabobs or bacon-wrapped shrimp on the buffet, this is what you should be drinking with 'em.
The Rosé: The Infinite Monkey Theorem Back Alley Rosé ($7, 250 ML can): This one's high on our list for a perfect fourth of July wine for so many reasons: It's pink. It's poundable. And it's unbelievably party-ready -- cleverly packaged as it is in a portable, pocket-sized can. While those are some pretty compelling qualities, we realize that none of them would matter if the wine wasn't delicious; thank goodness it's exactly that, bursting with raspberry creamsicle and cool strawberry aromas and flavors. Its oh-so-slightly sweet finish makes it a worthy partner for savoring on what's sure to be a fairly sweltering day -- with or without anything your party hosts might be serving for dinner. (But it kinda makes us crave a bratwurst topped with grilled onions).
Bonus -- The Bubbly: One Hope California Reserve Blanc de Noirs 2009 ($45): Given the recent spate of wildfires across our state, the usually ubiquitous Independence Day fireworks displays are liable to be few and far between. That doesn't mean you can't do a sparkler -- especially if it's a Sonoma Coast sparkler like this pinot noir-based offering from winery-with-a-cause producer One Hope. Fifty percent of all label profits fund the OneHope foundation, which serves an assortment of charities -- what's better than making yourself feel good while actually doing some good? If you happened to try this wine blindfolded, you might peg it for actual Champagne based on its toasty nose and succulent berry flavor profile. And let's face it: There's nothing quite like poppin' a bottle of bubbles to make any occasion festive -- so here's to making your fourth of July feel extra, super-duper flossy.
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