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8 Affordable American wines to drink on the Fourth of July

From farming to winemaking to exploring the challenges of being an unknown in the California wine world, I'm an author and award-winning winemaker.

These wines pair perfectly with hamburgers, hot dogs and potato salad

It's time to break the rules this Fourth of July and reach for wine instead of beer or cocktails. These eight affordable wines pair surprisingly well with traditional hamburgers and hot dogs.

It's all about America on Independence Day, and to me that means cutting-edge (and perhaps a bit offbeat) red and white American wine picks that require little effort and no mixology drama. After all, this is a holiday!

I always encourage adventure when it comes to choosing wines. I am not one to follow the monotonous guidelines of food and wine pairing, and certainly not on this hot and lively day. I encourage you to take some risks using a few of my simple pairing techniques.

And what are we pairing with? Well... what do hamburgers, hot dogs, fried chicken, ribs, corn on the cob, potato salad, coleslaw and apple pie a la mode have in common? If you guessed "fat," then you are probably right, but I advise you to put the diet off for one day and just enjoy the sugary and salty decadence of these American traditions.

This kind of spread screams for the acidity of a fresh white wine or the tannin of a robust red wine to cut through the fat, balance the flavors and cleanse our palates. I suggest you grab a crisp, cool and acidic white wine like a sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio, or perhaps an American sparkling wine. When it comes to red wine, pick a bold, vivacious, tannic one like cabernet sauvignon, merlot or zinfandel. The acidity in these whites and the tannins in these reds will add freshness and vitality to your palate, and continue to help smooth and balance the rich dishes.

My personal wine picks for Fourth of July are affordable and a bit unfamiliar to celebrate the adventurous American spirit. They're customized to go along with your scrumptious meal and whatever you have planned for that after-party.

Fourth of July wines from $10 to $17

White wine picks

  • Victor Hill Sauvignon Blanc, 2012: Cold fermented in stainless steel tanks with zero malolactic fermentation, lemon, grapefruit, lovely acidity and minerality.
  • Don Sebastiani and Sons, Pepperwood Grove, Pinot Grigio, Groovy Green Bottle (all sourced from sustainable forests and a reusable Zork closure!) or 3 liter eco-box 100 percent recyclable, clean, dry, with a hint of yummy mouthwatering minerality.
  • Benziger Family Winery, Sauvignon Blanc: a vivacious wine with exotic fruit flavors and a strong finish.

Sparkling wine

  • Gloria Ferrer, Blanc de Noirs or Sonoma Brut, mostly pinot noir grapes with a bit of chardonnay, dry with just enough bubbles at exceptional value.

Red wine

  • Shebang!, Morgan Twaine-Peterson, Bedrock Wine Co., Eighth Cuvee (Vintage).
  • California Red Wine, a field blend of mostly zinfandel.
  • Ravenswood, Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi, Joel Peterson's "No Wimpy Wines," a true tribute to the exclusive American zinfandel grape.
  • Plungerhead, Cabernet Sauvignon, complex, well-balanced, corpulent on the palate and I love the label and the name.
  • Jacuzzi Family Family Vineyards, Carneros Estate Merlot, a bold merlot with well-balanced complex fruit and intense earthy ruggedness.

I raise my glass to America, the land of plenty, for all the red and white wines that your healthy soils share. Cheers!

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