This may be the most difficult holiday to pair with wine – not so much because of the food, but because of the weather. It can be cool. It can be hot. Those conditions can dictate the wine, since you really don’t want to drink a 16.5 percent zinfandel if it’s 100 degrees out, or a slight white if you had to move the picnic indoors because it’s chilly and raining.
The solution? Light red wines.
Keep these in mind. (And, if you don’t mind a shameless plug, the Wine Curmudgeon will be on a panel this weekend at the Kerrville Wine & Music Festival discussing this very subject). This style of wine is versatile enough to go with most outdoor food, from barbecue to chicken and maybe even grilled shrimp, and they’re fruity and low enough in alcohol so that you won’t start sweating after one sip.
• Becker Vineyard Prairie Roti 2007 ($17) This Rhone blend (mourvedre, grenache, syrah, and carignan) is an excellent example of what Texas winemakers can do with grapes that aren’t cabernet sauvignon and merlot. One caveat: The roti has limited availability outside of Texas.
• Beauzeaux Red 2005 ($10). I’ve never been able to figure out why this isn’t huge. It’s fruity, it’s food friendly, and it’s cheap. Plus, it has a cute label. But it has never taken off, despite glowing reviews.
• Layer Cake Cotes du Rhone 2007 ($16). A red blend from France made by American. It has more fruit than a French-made Cotes du Rhone, which makes it ideal for this purpose.