By TOM MARQUARDT and PATRICK DARR
There is something special about the July 4th holiday. First and foremost, it is the day our nation celebrates its independence. With everything that is happening in the world today, July 4th has particular importance for us. For all this country’s problems, where else would we rather be?
Independence Day is also a time to gather with friends and family for a day in the yard: lawn chairs, games, a pool, laughter, an American flag and, of course, the almighty grill. There is something about grilled foods – the aroma, sizzle and smoke, simplicity, flavors – that cannot be replicated inside.
Fire up those grills, men. This is your moment.
We’ll be grilling lots of stuff all weekend, but nothing goes on the grill without a glass of wine to recognize the moment. As you plan for wine, there are many things to consider when finding the perfect wine to match your creations.
First, consider the sauce. If you have a tomato or ketchup based sauce, you want a fruity wine. Zinfandel – the all-American grape variety perfect for the holiday – is an ideal match for ribs or hamburgers slathered with sauce. Syrah is another good choice here.
Grilled chicken gives you more choices if a red sauce isn’t included. Sauvignon blanc complements herb rubs or just salt and pepper. If you want something different, consider pinot grigio, vermentino, or albarino.
Chardonnay is a good match for grilled fish, but don’t’ be afraid to pour a slightly chilled Beaujolais with salmon.
We highly recommend rose for just about any summer food except beef. It’s a great aperitif to pour before dinner or to serve alongside chicken, appetizers, shrimp and pork.
Obviously, beef calls for a more hearty wine, such as cabernet sauvignon. Be conscious of the temperature of the wine – put the wine in the refrig to bring the temp down to 60 degrees or so.
Here are some barbecue wines we recently found:
- Marina Cvetic Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC 2011 ($28). Aged 36 months in oak, this montepulciano has both power and finesse. Supple, but loaded with dark berry fruit and a dash of chocolate. If you can’t find this particular wine, montepulciano in general is a great match for beef and pork.
- Concrete Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($20). The wine is partly fermented in concrete tank, but we’re thinking there are probably a few guys in the construction business who would like this wine. From Lodi, it is packed with jammy, sweet berry flavors. No rebar needed.
- Kettmeir Pinot Grigio 2015 ($22). One of the fastest growing wine categories, pinot grigio is made for summer quaffing. This one has apple aromas and apple, peach flavors. Long finish makes you reach for a refill.
- Canvasback Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($40). Part of the Duckhorn portfolio, this Washington state wine is blended with merlot and malbec. The additional grapes give broader dimension to the aromas that include dark berries, spice, mocha and licorice. Soft and juicy flavors. Quite an impressive wine.
- Dasche Cellars Zinfandel Dry Creek 2013 ($26). Michael Dasche and his wife Anne have been making wine from predominantly zinfandel grapes for more than 10 years. We have never been disappointed in their efforts and recently tasted another delicious and satisfying wine from the couple. The Dry Creek zinfandel offers what you would expect from well-sourced zinfandel grapes — balanced wine with good acidity and ripe berry flavors with spicy notes.
- Seven Falls Cellars Zinfandel Wahluke Slope Jones Vineyard 2013 ($40). Wahluke Slope is an appellation of the Columbia Valley and is a very hot growing region, perfect for growing heat loving zinfandel grapes. Although zinfandel is not terribly well known in Washington State, maybe it should get more attention if this example is any indication of zinfandel’s potential in this acclaimed growing region. Very well balanced the berry flavors are round and rich with beautiful bright fruit nose.
- The Federalist Zinfandel Lodi 2014 ($20). A not overly complicated zinfandel with a smoky berry nose and flavors with some nice spicy notes.
- Bruno Rocca Fralu Nebbiolo Langhe 2013 ($24). You’ll get a hint of what all the excitement is about barolo and barbaresco, since this wine is made from the same grape and grown in Piedmont. Pleasant and medium bodied with a cherry and rose nose and flavors. Try with lighter style foods like chicken and pork.
- Kendall-Jackson Jackson Estate Pinot Noir Anderson Valley Outland Ridge 2013 ($35). A delicious, flavor-packed pinot noir with strawberry, blueberry and black cherry flavors in an elegant creamy oak frame. Mouth filling with a very nice long finish.
- Hacienda de Arinzano 2011 ($25). This Spanish blend of tempranillo, merlot and cabernet sauvignon provides versatility for foods ranging from beef to ribs. Spice and coffee on the nose gives way to softly textured plum and blackberry flavors.
- Les Rastellains Cotes du Rhone 2015 ($11). This rosé has all the usual suspects – grenache, syrah and cinsault. We really like the rosés from the Rhone because of their crisp acidity. Lots of strawberry and raspberry flavors.
- Saint Cosme Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2014 ($15). We just loved this wine because of its uniqueness. Made up of viognier, marsanne, picpoul de pinet and clairette grapes, it is fermented in small casks and aged on its lees. The result is a fresh and lively white wine with pineapple, apricot flavors and a touch of licorice. Great for summer and spring sipping.