I love holidays — especially the “official” ones that rate a day off from work.
I also love quite a few of the unofficial holidays — the ones invented by trade associations and public relations agencies and convention-and-visitors bureaus to promote various things, including food.
As an example, yesterday was National Chicken Wing Day. Today is National Cheesecake Day.
August is packed with “food days,” including a number that provide ready excuses for raiding the wine cellar for an appropriate pairing partner.
Following are a few worth jotting down on your calendar. Check to see if a local restaurant is planning anything special, or plan a special food-and-wine pairing of your own at home…
* August 4 — National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. Let’s start with dessert since this day is just around the corner. While Port is always a go-to choice as a pairing partner for dark chocolate, if you prefer a dry wine, you can’t go wrong with Merlot. Another great choice is Cabernet Sauvignon, as long as it’s more fruit-forward than “oaky.”
* August 5 — National Oyster Day. I’m one of those people who believes there are no coincidences, so I’m not surprised that white Chablis — Chardonnay from the Chablis appellation of France — is absolutely sublime with oysters. Here’s where the “no coincidences” rule comes in: In the Chablis growing area, fossilized oyster shells are part of the soil make-up. Other excellent options include dry sparking wine and Sauvignon Blanc.
* August 13 — National Filet Mignon Day. This cut of beef is often served with a sauce, and if the sauce has a more assertive flavor than the meat, you’ll need to pair the wine with the sauce. However, if the meat is served sans sauce, opt for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or almost any other red wine that you like. If you drink white wines exclusively, top the streak with garlic herb butter and pour a glass of a rich Chardonnay.
* August 16 — National Bratwurst Day. A grilled brat seems to scream for a glass of cold beer, but this is another dish that can work well with the right red wine or the right white wine. Among reds, opt for an Italian Chianti or a blend from the Rhone region of France. Among whites, look for a Riesling or a blend that is slightly sweet. Yet another option would be a rosé-style wine — either slightly sweet or completely dry.
* August 20 — National Bacon Lovers Day. Unless you are incorporating bacon bits in moderate amounts into a dish, there really is only one choice: dry sparkling wine.
One final thought: Never be afraid to be creative when experimenting with food-and-wine pairing. After all, it took a lot of creativity to come up with some of these “holidays.”