With Memorial Day right around the corner and sales of gas tanks for backyard grills climbing, we’ll be focusing this week on an issue that affects (or, perhaps, afflicts) far too many holiday-weekend hosts in the spring and summertime: What to serve with the traditional foods of the season.
There’s a difference this time of year, however: With outdoor sipping and eating the norm, and the overall casual nature of things at BBQ-centric gatherings, I don’t necessarily go for complexity; rather, I prefer wines that I can sip and enjoy without too much fuss.
Don’t get me wrong: I’d be thrilled if someone offered me a mature bottle of First Growth Bordeaux at my in-laws this coming weekend, and I'd absolutely drink it with pleasure, but it would seem to miss the point: Who wants to swirl, sniff, slurp, and parse while standing around in shorts and a polo and still sunblock-sticky from the morning round of golf?
No, I’d much rather have something more straightforward, more easily enjoyable.
Which is why I’ll be sipping, alongside the barbecued ribs and spicy cole slaw, a big glass of Zinfandel--in particular, the Candor Zinfandel Lot 2, a non-vintage bottling from Hope Family Wines that’s composed of fruit from both 2007 and 2008 and sourced from 60+ year old vines from Lodi and younger ones from Paso Robles. The wine smells of blueberry preserves and the immediate vanilla and caramel warmth of oak, and tastes of blueberry compote, ripe red berry fruit, sweet oak spice, and a hint of licorice that really comes through on the finish, too. It’s fruity, straightforward, and utterly gulpable. And though you’d never confuse this with a super-complex Zinfandel like, say, a great-vintage Turley or Carlisle, you’re not meant to: This is a wine custom-made for the easy drinking season we’re about to kick off. And absolutely perfect for it.