Memorial Day marks the official beginning of America’s greatest pastime.
No, not the baseball season. That started back when it was still snowing in some parts of the country.
No, not football season. That happens closer to the end of the baseball season, when it’s getting ready to snow again.
We’re talking about grilling season.
And this year, in case you needed to be reminded, that backyard barbecue is costing a few dollars more than it did last year.
Food inflation is the highest in almost two decades, driven by record prices for oil and gas, and mounting global demand for staples such as wheat and corn, and for proteins such as chicken.
As a result, the price of the average barbecue — with burgers, hot dogs, beverages, condiments, paper plates and lighter fluid — could run families about 6 percent more than last year. And with family budgets already being squeezed by the aforementioned soaring gasoline prices, even a small increase can hurt a lot.
What to do?
Here’s the strategy being employed by one member of the Vinesse tasting panel on this Memorial Day:
* Rather than grilling, go to McDonald’s and order a bunch of double cheeseburgers from the Dollar Menu. (Saves on beef, buns, condiments and lighter fluid.)
* Serve food on real plates. (Saves on paper plates, and costs only a few pennies in liquid detergent.)
* Open two or three bottles of Vinesse wine. (Guarantees quality, and by selecting the right varieties, guarantees a positive food-and-wine pairing experience.)
So, what kind of wine is best for a barbecue — even one for which the food is brought in?
Zinfandel is always a solid choice, as its fruitfulness serves as a nice counterbalance to the “char” of the grill. If you prefer white wines, a well-chilled Sauvignon Blanc is an excellent choice.
But keep in mind that this isn’t a gourmet, sit-down, white tablecloth affair. You’ll be munching on comfort food, you could very well be leaning against a tree, and if there even is a tablecloth, it’s probably checkered. All of which means that the wine you should be drinking is a wine that you like.
With that, go forth and grill! (Or head for the drive-through…)
P.S.: Be sure to check back on Sunday for a fabulous recipe that transforms chicken from a white wine dish into a red wine dish.