WASHINGTON — When I was growing up, the Fourth of July meant ice-cold watermelon, neighborhood cookouts, a parade down Main Street and, of course, fireworks at the local community college.
And beer — lot and lots of beer.
But that was then. Today, wine is a familiar site at backyard barbecues and picnics across the country. So celebrating the birth of our nation with an assortment of red, white and rosé wines is now as American as, well, Zinfandel!
Celebrated American author, Ernest Hemingway, put it best when he declared, “Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.”
So with that in mind, here are four All-American wines to enjoy this Fourth of July.
Willamette Valley, Oregon, is definitely known for quality Pinot Noir, but second-generation winemaker Adam Campbell is showing off his skills on the pink side of the wine ledger with his 2013 Elk Cove Vineyards Pinot Noir Rosé from Willamette Valley. Made exclusively from Pinot Noir grapes, this Oregon beauty is wonderfully crisp and dry, yet delivers loads of pretty fruit flavors — including strawberry, raspberry and pomegranate — on a fresh and balanced frame. Tart-yet-refreshing notes of cranberry and citrus provide a crisp and focused finish. Served well-chilled. $16
If you’re looking to keep your cool while watching red-hot fireworks this Fourth of July, then you will definitely want to keep a bottle of 2014 Stolpman sauvignon blanc chilled down and nearby. From the newly minted AVA of Ballard Canyon in the Central Coast region of California, this white wine opens up the palate with bright citrus, lime and tangerine flavors, with notes of pear and pineapple across the tongue. The crisp acidity and touch of minerality make it a refreshing aperitif on a hot summer day, but would also pair well with grilled seafood and vegetables. $20
Italian immigrants who settled in the Dry Creek Valley — located in the northern most portion of Sonoma County — in the latter part of the 19th century reserved the fertile valley floor for cash crops, such as wheat, apricots and prunes, and relegated the rocky slopes of the hillsides to the Zinfandel grapevines, which they vinified for personal use. The rich and spicy wines quickly gained popularity and a new industry was born. Dry Creek Vineyards carries on that tradition with its 2014 Dry Creek Vineyards Heritage Vines Zinfandel. A complex and delicious wine with aromas of black plum, chocolate and just a hint of black pepper and a palate that revels a well-balanced combination of blackberries, cranberries and plums that coats the tongue. The touch of pepper on the long finish sings classic zinfandel. It’s a great value and is a wonderful example of just how good Zinfandel can be from the Dry Creek Valley in California. $22
And, of course, no Fourth of July celebration would be complete without a sparkler. The Non-Vintage Chandon Brut Classic from California is all dressed up of the Fourth of July, sporting a festive red, white and blue bottle. This sparkler is made in the traditional method, or méthode champenoise as its famous Champagne parent, Moet & Chandon, refers to it. The wine is blended with 10 to 20 percent reserve wines from prior harvests in order to produce a consistent “house” style that exhibits aromas of brioche and nectarine and flavors of apple and pear that leads to a soft, dry finish. $24