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Eight Totally ’Merican Fourth of July Wine Pairings

A safe space for declaring your independence from beer.

Even though the Fourth of July means day drinking, day drinking doesn’t have to mean breaking out the kegerator. Wine and grilling go together like, well, fog and summer. (Two quick hints: Sparkling wine is easy to pair with appetizers, salad, and salmon. And zinfandel is a classic pairing for barbecue, and can be served chilled on a hot day.)  So don’t be shy—ditch that stars-and-stripes beer koozie and break out the red, white, and pink.   

RED

Dish: Sausage 
Wine: Purple Heart Red Blend, $19.99
This merlot/cabernet blend is a collaboration with the Purple Heart Foundation, which supports the men and women of the U.S. military and their families. Aside from being patriotic, this blend marries the soft texture and fruit-forward verve of merlot and the strong tannic structure and brooding flavors of cabernet. It goes especially well with lamb sausage and other gamy meats, but there’s no harm in pairings like chicken apple or Italian sausage. Just don’t go for links with too much heat—which will mute the complexities of the wine and make spicy tastes even spicier. 

Dish: Grilled steak or ribs
Wine: BR Cohn Silver Label Cabernet Sauvignon, $20
Cabernet with steak is an iconic pairing because you need a big, powerful, tannic wine to stand up to the boldness of steak and the salts and sauces we smother on it. It can be challenging to find a cabernet muscular enough for the job without breaking the bank. But BR Cohn’s Silver Label is rich and lush with flavors of black cherry and clove and can often be found for under $20. 

Dish: Grilled lamb chops and burgers 
Wine: Raymond Merlot, $24
A well-made Napa Valley merlot like Raymond’s gives you the juicy spiciness of zinfandel with the boldness and tannic structure of a cab. That makes it the perfect balance of two of the best wines for grilled red meats (pinot can be great too). Generally underappreciated and underpriced, merlot is not the prom queen that it used to be, but that’s all the better for you. Expect plum and blackberry notes from this tasty wine, which provides a nice contrast to the heartiness of lamb or burgers. 

WHITE

Dish: Grilled shrimp or prawns
Wine: Black Stallion Sauvignon Blanc, $14.99
Grilled shrimp goes will with citrus, and Black Stallion’s lively, acidic wine has plenty of citrus to go around. This crisp and refreshing sauvignon blanc will also cut through spice, so feel free to season up—or even blacken—those bad boys. 

Dish: Grilled pizza 
Wine: 3 Steves Chardonnay, $27
The heart of this pairing comes down to the pizza dough and the fire the dough picks up from the grill. 3 Steves chardonnay has a kiss of oak flavor, so it will still play well even if the pizza gets a bit charred. Plus, the balanced acidity and supple fruit flavors make this chard friendly for just about every topping—but I’d still watch out for overly spicy toppings.

Dish: Grilled fish (river fish, whole fish and white fish)
Wine: Murrieta’s Well Whip White Blend, $24
A white blend in general is a good bet because, as with all blends, winemakers get to put together their favorite grapes in one bottle rather than doing their best with only one variety. This blend is mostly about citrus, which goes very well with grilled fish and summer flavors in general. The weight and texture of the chardonnay component will also play nicely with charred flavors (or burnt pizza crust) and provide a nice toasty creaminess to boot. 

PINK 

Dish: Chicken (grilled, barbecued or blackened)
Wine: Sans Wine Co. Rosé of Carignan, $10/can 
This can o’ wine is high quality, refreshing, and tasty. It will stand up to blackened or spicy dishes—and to any bystanders who may not believe that wine in can can be good. Rosé of carignan is versatile in general; this one is medium bodied and dry (not sweet), with a robust acidity that will liven up the chicken. It’s got a refreshing finish that will enliven a dry chicken breast or a leftover wing. 

Dish: Melon or fruit salad (really any salad)
Wine: Retzlaff Vineyards Dry Merlot Rosé, $22
Though this rosé isn’t particularly sweet, you’ll detect obvious melon characteristics that play well with watermelon and other juicy fruits. If you opt for a fruit salad, you’ll notice that tart fruits will make the wine seem tart and acidic, while sweeter fruits will bring out the sugar. If you’re skipping the fruit, go ahead and pair this rosé with just about any salad¬—just stay away from really creamy (i.e. buttermilk ranch) dressings.  


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