About this time every year, with summer blasting us with heat, I like to write about my favorite way to chill.
New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day can take care of themselves. Now's when our morale needs crisp, cold wine.
It needn't be expensive. Maybe it shouldn't be because we may mistreat it a little in the heat of the summer moment. We may jam it into ice-filled chests to carry to beach, boat or patio, chilling it below the 40-to-50-degree temperature experts usually recommend for good bubbly.
So save the $100 bottles for fine dining indoors when the weather outside is frightfully cold, and you're serving caviar, smoked sturgeon and the like.
If there exists an all-purpose wine, it's probably bubbly - whether champagne, sparkling wine, cava, spumante or sekt. It's great, and cooling, by itself as an aperitif. It's the perfect sip with fried chicken, with all those bubbles cutting through the fat. It's good with sushi, subtle enough not to interfere. It lends a touch of class to the great American hot dog.
Lightly sweet bubblies go well with spicy food - Thai green curry shrimp, Tex-Mex tacos, three-alarm chili. The sweetest bubblies are great with cherries, peaches, apricots and other fruits in season now. Sweet red bubblies like the lambrusco described below go surprisingly well with chocolate.
True bubbly-philes even allege that bubblies - especially red ones - go with big, charcoaled New York strip steaks. Try it and see. They're certainly fine with grilled chicken, fish or veggies.
Stop me if I've told you this before, but my favorite way of grilling on a scorching July or August back porch is to pull the grill as close as possible to the back door, stand in the doorway with the AC blasting at my back, and comfort myself with a cool, cool glass of bubbly.
Then I can say hooray to summer.
- By Fred Tasker, McClatchy-Tribune News Service