Americans should feel very proud of their country’s position in the global world of wine. Despite being a relative newcomer in terms of wine consumption the United States is now the largest wine market in the world by value, with 2007 sales tipping $30 billion. What an achievement for a nation that has struggled with the aftermath of Prohibition, and still has one of the most complex wine distribution networks in the world. While California is by far the largest producing state, wine is now produced in all fifty states including the District of Columbia. As of November 2007, there were more than 6000 wineries in the U.S. an increase of almost 40% since 2004.
U.S. wine consumption has been growing steadily since 1991 after the CBS "60 Minutes" French Paradox broadcast and hundreds of other news media reported on the favorable health effects of moderate wine consumption. The popularity of the hit movie "Sideways" also helped boost wine interest, particularly in Pinot Noir from California.
Today the U.S. is probably the most dynamic wine market in the world. Consumers are trading up, experimenting with new varietals and blends, integrating wine into more areas of their lifestyles and embracing alternative packaging formats and closures better suited to different wine-drinking occasions.
While Independence Day fare varies around the country it inevitably revolves around family gatherings with barbeques, block parties and picnics. Yearly staples include hamburgers, hot dogs, fried chicken, steak every-which-way with fiery barbeque sauce, pulled pork and spoon bread, blackened catfish, spicy shrimp and all the sides you can ever imagine.
Thankfully, the U.S. wine options are equally diverse with something for every palate and every wallet. Here are some suggestions that should work well this July 4th.
• 2007 Kung Fu Girl, Riesling, Washington – 2007 ($14) - This wine is steely sharp and dry with lively citrus notes and green apple.
• 2006 Seven Hills Viognier ($18) - Creamy and viscous. Packed with white pear and peach flavors and a warm vanilla toastiness.
• 2006 Montinore Pinot Gris - Willamette Valley - 2006 ($14) - Bright and crisp with aromas of ripe pear, freshly mown grass and white flowers apricot and white flowers. Apples and quince on the palate.
• 2007 Channing Daughters, Pinot Grigio, Long Island New York ($14) - Made mostly from Pinot Grigio with a dose of Chardonnay for added body. Clean aromas and flavors of pears, white flowers, citrus, minerals and spice.
• 2006 Three Thieves Bandit, Merlot, California ($8) - convenient in colorful 1 liter Tetra Pak or juice box size cartons. Not just picnic-friendly packaging but well-made, tasty wines, packed with youthful fruit and refreshing to drink.
• 2006 Ridge, Three Valleys Zinfandel, Sonoma County ($22) – if you feel like splurging this is the way to go. The grapes come from vineyards in Dry Creek, Alexander and Sonoma Valleys. Full bodied, firm tannins and packed with intense ripe bramble fruit with lots of peppery spice and toasty notes.
• 2006 Cline Zinfandel Ancient Vines, Contra Costra ($14) – Lots of concentrated ripe fruit, ripe blackberries, boysenberries and juicy plums. Full bodied and smooth on the palate with a toasty spicy finish.
• 2006 A to Z Pinot Noir, Oregon ($20) - Affordable Pinot Noir from Oregon! Black cherries and red raspberries on the palate. Juicy with lush fruit and a great fresh finish. Light tannins and drinking well today.
• 2004 Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon ($20) – Intense aromas of rich, ripe black fruits. Aromas and flavors of cassis, black cherry, plums with layers of black pepper, toasty vanilla and clove.
Stores carrying a good selection of these wines:
Youngs Fine Wines and Spirits (Manhasset, NY )
Harlem Vintage (Manhattan, NY)
Winerz.com (Orange, CA)
Astor Wines (Manhattan, NY)
Beltramo's Wines & Spirits (Menlo Park, CA)
Ledgebrook Wines (Winsted, CT)
Little Falls Shoprite Liquor (Little Falls, NJ)
Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits (Washington, DC)
Total Wine & More (various locations, FL, NC)
Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PA)
Have a great July 4th and enjoy some local wines!
Until next week,