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!