Drinking Red, White, and Blue


This most patriotic of weekends tends to leave me in a tough spot, as it seems to me there's nothing better to drink while picnicking than rosés. But you can't be a commie pinko on the 4th now, can you? Plus I just wrote about rosés, so you need some new suggestions to fuel your Fourth. I figure, why not be a true American and go simple? Here are ways to drink red, white, and blue for this weekend.

White: Brewer-Clifton 2013 Sparking Chardonnay

This covers the white part quite simply, with a wine that's made 100% from chardonnay grapes. But then think of all the value added, beyond the deliciousness you expect from any bottle you open from the esteemed Brewer-Clifton. First, it's a sparkler, and fizz is one thing the 4th is all about. Second, it's from their 3D Vineyard. In addition to coming from the much sought after Sta. Rita Hills AVA in Santa Barbara County, it's 3D! And isn't this holiday also about cinematic blockbusters? Well, this is one in a bottle.

Red-ish, Beer Division: Alesmith's Yule Smith Holiday Ale

This delight from San Diego obviously needs some explaining as it sort of seems like some Christmas in July deal. But Alesmith makes its Yule Smith both in a summer version -- a double IPA -- and a winter one -- a hearty red ale. The summer still pours relatively reddish (though it's heading to orange -- think of it as a charcoal ember's glow). Then it whacks you with flavor, with plenty of hops since it's a double IPA, but a surprising malt backbone, too. What could be more American than a beer almost out of control, but then with enough gravitas (grain) to pull it off? Yule Smith is kind of a platonic notion of what the good old U.S. of A should be, but you then get to drink it.


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Red, Wine Division: Sbragia Zinfandel

Regular readers might remember a column about how zinfandel might be the only truly American grape. Even better, it's a big and burly red that plays well with barbecued meats and sticky sauces -- foods that need some high alcohol. Some of the finest zin in the state right now comes from Sbragia Family Vineyards in Sonoma, especially Gino's, if you can get it. This truly is a family vineyard, and that seems holiday fitting too: it was founded by Ed, longtime winemaker at Beringer, and he brought in his son Adam to work with him (Gino was Ed's dad). What's more American than needing a second job? Okay, that's not really why Ed started the winery, but they are making lip-smacking big reds.

Blue: Longoria Blues Cuvée

I'm cheating a little bit here, but you don't really want to drink something colored blue, do you? (Even blue curacao is sort of an abomination.) Rick Longoria is a Santa Barbara wine scene veteran, and with this bottling, he tips his cap to his favorite genre of music. Every couple of years Longoria Wine commissions a new artist to create a blues portrait for the label: the 2012 current release, his 20th vintage of this blend, features a sax man mid-blow painted by Utah artist Brad Greenwell. As attractive as that is, the wine itself is even better: a blend led by cabernet franc, but also with cabernet sauvignon, syrah, malbec, and merlot grapes. This is a perfect grill-side bottle, full of deep red fruit and enough tannins to chew a bit of your steak for you.

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