Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wines for the 4th of July

By Liza B. Zimmerman

Great wines to enjoy, hopefully on a blanket in the park in the sun, for this country's anniversary should have fizz, spice and substance. My family used to have a lobster salad-based picnic in Central Park near where I grew up on the Upper West Side and everyone brought something to eat and drink.

There were bubbles, big muscular reds and unusual Croatian wines that had been sitting in people's basements for way too long. However we always had fun with the pairings: joked about them and always voted on what worked best with that super mayonnaise-infused lobster salad.

Start Fresh and Clean
Fizzy and acidic whites are great to start a meal. It might also be reverent to drink a few domestic sparklers here. Some beautiful ones are coming out of Washington State, some of which are off-dry crowd-pleasers. They are also supremely affordable.

California is also producing some lovely sparkling wine, both from smaller producers, as well as the siblings of Champagne houses. Spanish Cavas and Italian proseccos are also great on their own and even fun with a slash of tonic water or Martini Bianco.

Crisp white from everywhere from the Central Coast of California to the Northern parts of Spain are also likely to work well with salads, hard cheeses and olives with which you might start off a meal. Sauvignon Blanc is always a great bet as are many of the Iberian varietals--hello Verdelho--that are being grown with lots of success in places as diverse as Lodi and tk.

White Rhône varitals are also refreshing, although generally richer in style and taste profile. Regions such as Paso Robles on the Central Coast of California and producers in mid and Eastern Washington are also producing some great wines from Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier such as the Magnificent Wine Company's House Wine which is primarily Chardonnay with a touch of white Rhône grapes.

Go Spicy
Not everyone wants the lobster salad so bring on the BBQ, or get take from your neighborhood Korean! Rich, charred meat flavors call for sustainable reds with lots of tannins and intense fruit and sometimes earthy notes. Rhone reds can be among the most animal-flavored--yes I do meant hat in a good way--of the bunch. They those tar and mineral, umami notes that can stand up to beautifully cooked meat even with a somewhat spicy marinade.

For simple preparations of meat, maybe just a strip stake made on the grill, a fruit-juicy California Cabernet Sauvignon might do the trick. Or a lower alcohol Zinfandel, once they get over 14.5+ percent of alcohol they may seem too candied to work with food.

Syrah from Walla Walla can also take on those great meal flavors, as can peppery and spicy Spanish blends based on Grenache. Argentine Malbecs are also classics, but generally for steaks with a lot of smoky charr on them and a simple marinade.

With pork loin or ribs, you could you go lighter and fruitier, maybe even uncorking a little sparkling Lambrusco from Italy or stepping back into a sustainable white from Northeastern Italy or the Rhone.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza B. Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

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