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Two Women on Wine: Hot dogs, burgers and good wine

The Fourth of July can be a time to enjoy wine

Posted: July 2, 2009 2:53 p.m.
Updated: July 3, 2009 6:03 a.m.
Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier
Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier

By now you should know that we're fairly traditional. So it should come as no surprise that at our Fourth of July cookout you would find hot dogs and burgers grilled to order, heaps of creamy potato salad and cole slaw, plenty of smoky baked beans with bacon, not to mention sauerkraut and corn-on-the-cob slathered in butter.

So, what to drink with a cookout menu that brings savory flavors and spiciness, along with some fat and nitrates to the table? Beer? Sure, but we're not beer drinkers.

Over the years, we've experimented with different wines to find the ones that bring out the best in our traditional summertime cookout.

Let's start with rosé. We're partial to rosés that have a good balance of fruit and acid. We suggest trying one from France or Spain. These wines are crisp and very drinkable. They pair well with grilled foods, as well as our cookout menu. Rosés are best drunk young and should be kept well-chilled.

While the burgers are grilling, we open up a bottle or two of Zinfandel to go with them. We look for a medium-bodied Zinfandel, one that isn't too high in alcohol and that has a distinct, but not too assertive, aroma of fruit and a little spiciness. The big, jammy Zinfandels are better paired with hearty roasted or braised meats like lamb and beef. Another thing we like about Zinfandels is that they're very affordable and generally quite good.

Pinot Noir is one of the most food-friendly wines on the planet. It's always welcome at our cookouts because it has subtle flavors of red and black berries and good acidity, and it's easy on the tannins. Pinot Noir works well with spicy foods. Hot dog with mustard and sauerkraut, anyone?

Two other cookout-friendly reds are Merlot and Barbera. Some Merlots, especially those from California's Central Valley, are simple, easy-to-drink wines that pair nicely with a burger. The versatile, medium-bodied Barbera is from Italy's Piedmont region. It's got the right acidity to work well with our menu.

Among the whites, we prefer a dry to semi-dry Riesling, with maybe just a touch of sweetness. There's something so refreshing about this wine; it's high in acidity and rich in minerals. It pairs well with a variety of foods, especially those that tend toward spiciness and richness. The best Rieslings are produced in cold climates, such as Germany and New York State.
We wish you a Happy Fourth of July and a summer full of good times and good wine.


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