4th of July food

Hot Dogs with Wine

Ketchup, mustard or both?  Does the condiment with which you choose to top your hot dog say something about you?  For those who like mustard, are you bright and cheerful with a sharp edge?  Ketchup lovers, are you sweet and sour with a darker personality?  And what type of person would be categorized as loving both?  Someone with multiple personalities?  This doesn't include a host of other products out there like onions, sauerkraut, relish and jalapenos to top your hot dog with.  Personally, I prefer just mustard but I won't turn down a hot dog with both.  Every 4th of July, Nathan's Famous hosts a hot dog eating contest.  The defending champ Joey "Jaws" Chestnut won his 5th title in a row today by consuming 62 hot dogs and buns in ten minutes.  Sonya "Black Widow" Thomas also won the women's division by consuming 40 hot dogs and buns in the same ten minute period.  I get sick to my stomach just thinking about eating that many hot dogs at once.  Although, I may consider attempting the feat if poured a glass of perfectly paired wine!

Pinot Gris has been showing its chops alongside BBQ fare recently.  First, it was BBQ ribs and now hot dogs!  For those of you wondering, Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are the same grape varietal.  However, Pinot Grigio (typically from Italy) is considered lighter in style and is usually medium bodied.  U.S wine labeled Pinot Grigio usually depicts this lighter style.  Pinot Gris is typically medium to full bodied with aromas of citrus, green apples, pears, peaches and a touch of spice.  The best renderings of this grape actually come from Alsace, France and are fuller bodied than the previous two.  I reach for Alsace Pinot Gris around Thanksgiving time when I can really play off the spice and richness of the wine.  Just to be safe, I topped my hot dog with both mustard and ketchup so that I could choose a wine that worked with both.  After a bite of the food and then a sip of the wine I notice the flavor of the bread spring forth.  I also really like the weight of the wine against the heaviness of the bun.  The touch of spice in the wine works amazingly against the spiciness of the mustard yet the fruit in the wine compliments the sweetness of ketchup.  The acidity in the wine also works nicely against the sharpness of the mustard and helps to wash everything down.  I personally prefer a white or rose wine that can be chilled for hot summer BBQ's.  However, if you're a red wine lover and want a wine that will work with hot dogs, reach for a glass of Oregon Pinot Noir.  Cheers and Happy 4th of July!!

Lays® BBQ Chips with Wine

I envy people with a large family.  My grandmother always told me growing up, "You can pick your friends, but you can't pick your family."  As a child, I longed for big family gatherings on weekends like the 4th of July.  Why couldn't I have twenty something cousins like most of my friends to light fireworks with?  I had two cousins and upon a falling out between my grandmother and her son's wife, I was left to torment my grandparents by throwing Pop Its at their feet and writing my name in the air with sparklers.  It wasn't just holidays that I longed for family around either.  I was raised as an only child and hated feeling alone.  I would beg my grandmother to play with me.  On occasion, she would let me pretend I was a hairdresser and curl her hair with an iron.  My grandmother had been a waitress all her life and I loved pretending to be her.  I'd put on her high heels that were three sizes too big and take her order.  She'd pay in me in pennies and I'd return with water and Lays® BBQ chips placed neatly on her beautiful china.  "That's twenty-six pennies ma'am,"  I'd state.  If I wasn't curling her hair or pretending to be her, I'd make her watch me dive in the pool over and over again and yell out "Grandma, did you see that?"  What I wouldn't have given for a number of sisters and brothers to joke and play with.  One 4th of July my grandfather asked me if I wanted him to buy fireworks.  My response was "why?  Who's going to light them with me?"  I know a large family can have its problems.  I'm sure there is a lot of arguing and crying at huge 4th of July family gatherings.  But I can't help but feel deep down inside that life is so much sweeter with people you love around to share the moment with.

If I was still serving my grandmother Lays® BBQ chips, I'd trade out the water for a beautiful glass of sparkling Shiraz.  And I mean beautiful in every sense of the word.  A vibrant ruby red color pours from the bottle into the glass and forms a pink mousse around the top of the wine.  It's the ultimate 4th of July wine in my opinion, since sparkling Shiraz fares so well with BBQ.  In summer,  beware of pouring heavier reds when its hot outside.  You'll need a wine that will go with a variety of foods, including meat for BBQs.  Sparkling Shiraz is bold enough to stand up to the meat, yet sweet enough to stand up to BBQ sauce (the wine ranges from dry to sweet).  And you serve it chilled which helps to cool you off in the summer heat.  This Australian red sparkler is incredible with Lays® BBQ chips.  After a bite of the food, I notice both the sugar in the wine and chips compliment each other.  For a moment I can't pick out the individual flavor of the chip or wine.  It's as if they've become one.  The wine is jammy and peppery and somewhat reminiscent of grape soda.  These flavors match the specks of pepper and BBQ sauce found on the chips.  The bubbles in the wine match the crispness of the chips and along with a fare amount of acidity, help to wash the flavors of the tongue.  Enjoy!