Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Memorable Memorial Day Wines

Today’s high is going to 94 degrees here in Denver. With Memorial Day Weekend approaching, I’ve got barbeque on my mind. Although beer is a great beverage choice, don’t overlook the many excellent wines that go beautifully with the bounty of the day. Lighter wines are perfect for sitting on the deck before dinner. Vinho Verde, the subject of my previous blog, is a great choice. The freshness of the fruit, the acidity, and the pétillance of the wine make it delightfully refreshing.

In my quest to write as little new material as possible, I’ll mention another good choice — Rosé, the subject of my blog prior to the one on Vinho Verde. The strawberry and melon flavors in a dry, light-bodied wine also perfectly complement many of the foods served, such as chicken, burgers, and salads.

For the red drinker, lighter style reds make more sense before food is served. Pinot Noir, Beaujolais (from the Gamay grape), and Schiava (an indigenous varietal from northern Italy) are all wonderful. I also suggest an extraordinary wine from Pic St Loup in the south of France Le Loup Dans la Bergerie (literally, The Fox in the Sheep Pen). This is a medium bodied wine with awesome fruit and spice. It combines Grenache, Syrah and Merlot, is fairly easy to find, is inexpensive, and offers amazing depth of flavor.

While some white drinkers like oaky, buttery California Chardonnays, other varietals work better on a hot, sunny day. The citrusy zip of Pinot Grigio works well (Tieffenbruner is my favorite), as do the Spanish Albrinos (try Burgans). White Bordeaux from France and Soaves from Italy round out my favorites.

As the food arrives, there are myriad wines to choose from. Argentinian Malbec works great, no surprise since Argentinian barbeques are legendary. Renacer Punto Final and Durigutti are two of the best. California Zinfandel, such as Cosentino’s The Zin, are superb, as are Southern Italy’s Negroamaros (e.g. Menhir’s N Zero) and Nero D’Avolas. If you are doing steaks or burgers with blue cheese, try a nice easy going Cabernet like Rickshaw. If lamb is on the menu, the earthiness of the southern Cotes du Rhones makes these the perfect wines. Great examples are Domain Boisson Cairanne and Chapoutier Belleruche.

Whatever you drink, enjoy the holiday and drink responsibly (or let someone else drive home). Remember, great wines that make great food even better don’t have to break the bank. Cheers!

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