Wine ideas for celebrations from sea to shining sea - The Buffalo News

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Wine ideas for celebrations from sea to shining sea

A big advantage to the fact that America is a melting pot of various people is that there is no single great national dish. One of the freedoms we enjoy on the Fourth of July is to eat anything we want.

Sure, hot dogs, cheeseburgers and barbecue get most of the publicity. But maybe you’re Cuban, and you prefer roast suckling pig, or you’re Haitian, and you want pork cubes, beans and rice. Or your Irish pride demands corned beef and cabbage.

In that spirit, here are some wine suggestions for the kinds of foods that Americans of all colors, creeds and palates, from sea to shining sea, might be eating this weekend:

Grilled steaks, burgers, hot dogs, chicken legs and, yes, garlic-studded goat: Cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah. If you grill veggies, sauvignon blancs have the herbal quality to go with that.

Barbecue: The addition of sweet and spicy sauce calls for spicy, lightly sweet wines such as zinfandel and shiraz.

Cold picnic foods like chicken salad or tuna salad sandwiches, fried chicken and such go well with lightly sweet white wines such as chenin blanc, viognier or riesling.

Whole suckling pigs roasted over open fires go well with light-bodied reds like pinot noir or even spicy, white gewurztraminer. The latter option might seem counterintuitive, but I took a bottle of it to a pig roast once and it was the hit of the evening.

Pork cubes, beans and rice can go with either hearty whites such as chardonnay or light reds like pinot noir.

Corned beef and cabbage? I’d try a dry rosé. No kidding, pink wine and pink meat are a natural match.

Chinese food, depending on what it is, needs many different wines. For spicy, sweet or salty dishes, lightly sweet riesling is great. For red-wine dishes such as Peking duck, a soft, rich merlot is nice.

New Orleans spicy gumbos, barbecue shrimp and such pair well with those lightly sweet whites.

Seattle cedar-plank salmon is one of those red-wine-with-fish dishes; I’d try a pinot noir.

Buffalo chicken wings or spicy Tex-Mex chili, when properly spicy, are beyond wine. I throw up my hands and accede to ice-cold beer.

Highly recommended

• 2012 J Vineyards Pinot Noir, Estate Grown, Russian River Valley, Calif.: rich black cherry aromas and flavors with a hint of earthiness; $37.

• 2012 Wild Horse Winery Viognier, Central Coast, Calif.: aromas and flavors of white peaches and vanilla, smooth and rich; $17.

• 2012 Ravenswood “Vintner’s Blend” Old Vine Zinfandel, Calif. (78 percent zinfandel, 18 percent petite sirah, 4 percent mixed red grapes): hint of oak, rich and hearty flavors of black cherries and black raspberries, spicy; $10.


• 2012 Robert Oatley “Signature Series” Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia: hint of oak, heady and rich, with flavors of black raspberries; $15.

• 2011 Geyser Peak Red Wine Blend, Alexander Valley, Calif.: hint of oak, flavors of red raspberries and spice, $28.

• 2012 Mandolin Syrah, Central Coast, Calif.: vanilla aromas, flavors of black raspberries and cloves; $10.

• 2012 Wente Vineyards “Morning Fog” Chardonnay, Livermore Valley, Calif.: hint of oak, with crisp green apple flavors and full body; $15.

• 2013 Napa Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley: aromas of cut grass and lemons, flavors of white grapefruit, crisp and dry; $18.

• 2013 Edna Valley Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Central Coast, Calif.: aromas and flavors of black cherries and bittersweet chocolate, firm tannins; $15.

2012 Chateau Ste. Michelle Gewürztraminer, Columbia Valley, Wash.: floral aromas, lychee flavors, crisp and dry; $10.

• 2013 Robert Mondavi “Private Selection” Riesling, Central Coast, Calif.: slightly sweet, with aromas and flavors of green apples, lemons and honey; $11.

Fred Tasker has retired from the Miami Herald but is still writing about wine. He can be reached at

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