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Wine matches for Independence Day

Beer is often the beverage of choice for 4 July celebrations, but wine is increasingly more popular as a relaxing Independence Day refreshment.

With wine’s increase in popularity comes the challenge of finding a wine to serve that not only beats the American heat, but pairs well with typical picnic fare.

The usual food eaten on the day is hot dogs laden with mustard, salty chips, grilled onions, and a watermelon.

The most recommended alcohol beverage is a beer, but to help push the boat out a little we have come up with some wine matches for 4 July.

Red wine 


If steak sandwiches are on the menu, a medium-full bodied red will bring out the flame grilled flavour of this all American favourite.

A Cabernet/Shiraz blend is probably best and many of the top examples come from Australia.

A good rule of thumb is to consider your toppings. Sweeter, fruit based condiments like ketchup or relish call for a more fruit forward wine. A Pinot Noir can work for this pairing, but can be costly, so also look for a Beaujolais.

Stronger toppings such as blue cheese, mushrooms, or mustard require a fuller-bodied wine to stand up to them, such as a Malbec. Malbec will also not overpower the hot dog’s flavour as its spicy black fruits and plums play well with the dogs.



Its gentle sweetness works with hot dogs, and its citric tang mellows mustard.

A dry German Riesling has crisp acidity, cutting through fat and enough weight to compliment a brat’s peppery bite. Meanwhile Austria’s dry styles are especially food friendly, Clare Valley in Australia can offer a more substantial, richer style – and if you’re keeping it patriotic, then don’t forget the growing profile of Riesling from Washington State and Finger Lakes in New York State.


Zinfandel’s spicy edges pair very well with the smoky sweetness in barbecue. And as many American’s would testify, if America has a wine grape to call its own, Zinfandel is it.

Most grape varieties have origins in Europe, but the only other Zinfandel vines (officially documented with DNA fingerprinting) with the same structure as American vines were found on Croatia’s Dalmatian coast. Records show Zinfandel plantings in the US dating back to the 1820’s. Some of our oldest grape vines are Zinfandel vines, indeed, before Prohibition it was the most widely planted grape in California.

Sparkling wine

Sparkling wine goes with almost anything including chocolate and fish and chips. In this instance the bubbles and acidity will cut the frankfurter fattiness, while the citrus will play well with salty stuff.

In London, a new restaurant – Bubble Dogs – will offer a choice of 10 hot dogs and will serve grower Champagnes as well as sparkling wines.

White wine: Gewürztraminer

The aromatic wine is a star in Alsace and Germany, areas known for sausage, so Gewürztraminer offers an eminently suitable country-food pairing.

More full-bodied than most whites, Gewürz’s apple and lychee fruit flavours can be a nice counterpoint to bratwurst’s strong personality.


The pairing of BBQ and Chardonnay is only passable.

Chardonnay which is often a difficult barbecue-wine pairing can work if you try an oaked chardonnay with a buttery oak flavour which will lend itself to the bread buns. And after all the bun is half the burger/hot dog experience too.


There are a range of rosés to try from sparkling to still. Avoid sweeter versions and opt for drier rosés made from Merlot or Sangiovese; enjoy the cherry and strawberry notes while you toast the red, white and blue.

A well balanced rosé will provide the fruity richness to handle heartier fare (anything off the grill), while at the same time not overpower the more delicate or sweeter dishes (sweetcorn or coleslaw) on the menu. Plus a refreshing glass of rose is a nice way to cool off on the warm weather holiday.


Madeira wine has to be included as it became one of the Founding Fathers’ favourite wines to toast such monumental occasions as the Declaration of Independence, Washington’s inauguration, the celebration of establishing Washington DC as the nation’s capital and so on.

It is a sweet wine, which may not sit well with the all American barbecue but it’s steeped in American history and deserves its place here.

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