Star-Spangled 4th (5th, 6th...) of July

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Independence Day fell on Friday this year--creating a three-day weekend. And in DC, the weather was beautiful. All over the area, barbecue grills fired up.

For us, the 4th was a celebration with family and neighbors. The 6th, with wine friends. Both were celebrations of America--not just in decor and music, but in spirit. The food at both was all-American. In both cases, we asked guests to nominate their traditional dishes for Independence Day celebrations. Burgers, hot dogs, baked beans, potato salad, deviled eggs, and salads on the 4th (kids involved). A little more upscale on the 6th: scallops, chicken and beef...and more potato salad, deviled eggs, etc.

The wines also were all-American. With the burgers on the 4th, it was 2004 Pride Cabernet Franc. Good...rich flavor without the weight of a fruit bomb. On the 6th, with wine friends, they were more diverse. 2009 Aubert Lauren Vineyard Chardonnay with the seared scallops. 2011 Antica Terra Erratica Rosé and 2009 Brooks Temperance Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir with the grilled chicken. 2008 Delectus Petite Sirah with the grilled tri-tip. All really good.

But interestingly, the wine that stole the show on both occasions was the 2013 Red Car Rosé--a 100% pinot noir rosé from the Sonoma Coast. I was excited to see the Red Car at a local shop (Cork and Fork in Gainesville). Red Car is a boutique producer best known for their pinot noirs--which are very difficult to find as they virtually sell out via mailing list.

It was really good. Intense, without being heavy. Deep, crisp, fresh...with a lovely balance. One of the best rosés I've tasted this year. But I think on both occasions, the setting enhanced the enjoyment of the wine. The celebrations started late afternoon, as the sun just began to slide behind the trees. We laughed and splashed in the pool. And pulled ourselves out to sip the Red Car and munch on hors d'oeuvres on the pool deck.

It was really, really fun. And I suspect the act of sharing with family and good friends...the beautiful day...lots of laughing and playing in the pool...and a relaxed, lovely setting as we sipped the Red Car rosé...all contributed to our sense that it was really an enjoyable wine.

And that's not surprising. As I think about my most enjoyable wine experiences, they often seem to have as much to do with who I was with and where I was as with the wine itself.

And that suggests it's not always about trying to serve a dazzling wine. Frequently, it's about serving a wine that just fits and supports the occasion well.


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