When I was growing up, the Fourth of July meant ice cold watermelon, cookouts, a parade down Main Street and fireworks at the community college stadium. And beer. Lots and lots of beer.
But that was then. Today, wine is a familiar sight at backyard barbecues across the country.
Celebrating the birth of our country in the nation’s capital with an assortment of red, white and sparkling wines is a great way to declare your own independence.
As Benjamin Franklin put it, “Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance.” I’ll drink to that.
I use to love running around the front lawn waving sparklers, blissfully ignoring the small patches of skin that were singed by wayward cinders. Today, my sparklers are made up of bubbles instead of burns. The American-born Non-Vintage Mumm Napa Cuvée M sparkling wine from Napa Valley, California, is a versatile and delicious bubbly. A delicious blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Meunier, it sports flavors of melon, green apple and bright citrus zest. It can stand alone as an aperitif or pairs beautifully with the All-American dessert, apple pie. $23
What better way to celebrate our independence than with a red wine that is all about liberty, like the 2019 Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles, California. An elegant, medium-bodied Cabernet with aromas of black cherry and plum followed by subtle flavors of strawberry and spice. Firm yet supple tannins finish off this approachable fruit-driven Cabernet, making it ideal for the grill. $13
The super-delicious — and aptly named — 2017 St. Innocent Freedom Hill Pinot Blanc from the Willamette Valley of Oregon is just what the summer ordered, particularly if you like a bit of Asian fare to go with your fanfare. Floral scents of gardenias and sweet lychee nut erupt on the bouquet. The palate is immediately enticed with superb minerality and freshness that lifts the flavors of peach, pear, apricot and nectarine in the mouth. The wonderful acidity simultaneously tames the heat of spicy dishes while supporting the freshness of the wine. $22
Zinfandel is considered the All-American grape, and thanks to the characteristic dark fruit and black pepper notes, it pairs well with grilled meats like steaks and ribs. The 2018 Federalist Bourbon Barrel-Aged Zinfandel from Mendocino County, California, is a big zin aged in charred bourbon barrels. A blend of mostly Zinfandel with small amounts of Petite Sirah and Merlot, this wine features beautiful aromas of blackberry, forest floor, vanilla and toasty oak. In the mouth, the wine offers up flavors of ripe black cherries, dark plums and blueberry liqueur on the palate. It’s aged in oak barrels formerly used to age bourbon, so there is just a touch of smokiness on the finish that melds perfectly with the black pepper notes. A perfect accompaniment with burgers, ribs and steaks. $20
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