The Fourth of July: is it a beer holiday or a wine holiday? Judging by the amount of kegs that left the store... I would have to say beer ruled last weekend, even though I celebrated with ice cold sparkling wines. So many choices to refresh yourself on this usually HOT holiday, but I think kegs won out.

   I posed this question several times on my twitter account. One response said margaritas (a true national holiday drink?), but I chose bubbles. Yes, maybe unconventional I imagine I wanted to stay with Thomas Jefferson's first love, wine! He has been described as America's first distinguished viticulturist, and the greatest patron of wine and wine growing that this country has yet had. Although Jefferson probably never made a Monticello wine, the mult-varietal collection of his vineyards and his influential advocacy of American viticulture were amazing accomplishments that continue to reverberate to this day.

   According to Wikipedia, The first Europeans to explore North America called it Vinland because of the profusion of grape vines they found. In California, the first vineyard and winery was established by the Franciscan missionary monks near San Diego in 1769.

   So this begs the question, What would the grape of America be to celebrate it's independence? A form of vitis labrusca: Concord, Norton, Alexander, Catawba, or would it be a vits vinifera hybrid: Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay? All I know is that our founding fathers were instrumental in vine production, and on a hot day would like something chilled and refreshing - but beer would fit into that description too.

   So let's look at the beer history in America, especially Chicago. 1893: Pabst Beer is now called Pabst Blue Ribbon beer because it was the first beer to win a blue ribbon at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893 and is noted as being America's largest brewery in 1895. In October of 1932, the only beer allowed to be served during Prohibition is near-beer which is 0.5% alcohol vs. real beer which is 4.0% alcohol on average. Wines grown for sacramental purposes saved many wineries in the United States during Prohibition.

   Judging by the sales of Chateau St. Michelle Riesling was the best wine light, refreshing, great value at a great price, Washington state based-all American wine to consume. But according to beerhistory.com Noah's provisions included beer on the Ark. The beer - well I have to double check how many kegs left the store - but a cold beer on a hot 4th of July holiday is like baseball, apple pie and hot dogs. Which by the way all of those still taste great with Champagne.

   What was the winner at your holiday celebration?

 

- Nancy Sabatini is a wine consultant at the Plainfield Binny's.