At summer parties, like the one you're likely going to for the Fourth of July, you'll want to bring along a bottle of wine that's not only satisfying on its own, but will also pair with a wide range of foods.
During the summer months, the refreshment we crave more than anything is acidity. That's why lemonade is so thirst quenching. In wines, acid plays a primary role, no matter what color or style. Without acidity, wine is off-balance. And even the thickest, most famous dessert wines (see: Sauternes) have, at their core, a good deal of refreshing acidity to balance all of that intense sweetness. Below, see our recommendations for what to bring to your Independence Day bash—with multiple options for finicky fans of red, white, and sparkling wines.
I adore Sauvignon Blanc from anywhere, but I'm partial to New Zealand, the Loire Valley, and Italy's Friuli and Alto Adige regions (where it's called simply Sauvignon). I also recommend Rieslings from Alsace, Germany, and Washington; Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris from Oregon and Alsace; Gruner Veltliner from Austria; and Albarino from Spain's Rias-Baixas region. These are all safe bets, likely to be unoaked (or just lightly oaked), and yet full of complex aromas and flavors—expect citrus, peach, apple, pineapple, and/or apricot.
You'll want to stay away from anything too rich, heavy, tannic or alcoholic. Leave the Cabs, Zins, and Syrahs for the steak dinners at night. I always bring Gamay-based wines, specifically Beaujolais, to grilling parties. And while I love a decent "Beaujolais-Villages" (an intermediate-level grade), I highly recommend you put in the extra effort to find a Beaujolais from one of the 10 Crus (like Brouilly,Chenas, orMoulin-a-Vent). Consider also Pinot Noir from everywhere, but especially red Burgundy from France; Sangiovese-based wines from Tuscany, includingChianti Classico and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano; andZweigelt from Austria. Remember to lightly chill the reds; "room temperature" tends to be too hot to serve on a hot day.
Anything labeled 'Brut' (which is "dry") will deliver bright acidity, but watch out for '"off-dry" and "extra dry" wines, which are actually sweeter and can blunt acidity. However, if you're pairing wine with spicy BBQ sauce, then by all means try an off-dry sparkler—look for bottles classified "demi-sec," like Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte's new D'Luscious Rosé. Also consider Lambrusco, an effervescent red from Italy that comes in dry and off-dry styles. They are always a hit at parties—unusual, colorful, and surprisingly quaffable. My favorite producers include Pederzana, Lini, and Medici Ermete.
—Follow Anthony Giglio on Twitter at @WineWiseGuy.
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