The Fourth of July conjures up memories of picnics, colorful fireworks on a balmy summer night and BBQs. We don’t know who doesn’t look forward to celebrating this ultra-American holiday with a gold, old-fashioned hamburger, an all-beef hot dog, grilled chicken, steak, or shrimp? Here are five, all-American food and wine pairing recommendations to try to keep the spirit of the 4th of July BBQ going all  summer long.


All-Beef Hot Dog:

There is almost nothing tastier than a mouthwatering, all-beef hot dog prepared on the grill. Whether sliced as an appetizer or eaten the traditional way in a fluffy bun loaded with ketchup, mustard, pickles, onions, relish, sauerkraut, and more- it best to keep this pairing super simple – and complementary – with a big, bold, juicy California Cabernet.

AJR Pick: Cannonball 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon (California- $16.99). 85% Cabernet, this wine expectedly offers notes of ripe blackberry, black cherry, and a hint of cocoa powder. The addition of Syrah (10%) provides a hint of pepper, a perfect added “seasoning” to all grilled items.

Cajun-style Grilled Shrimp:

Shrimp on a skewer, whether wrapped in bacon or straight-up, is a perfect appetizer prepared on the grill. The natural sweetness of  shrimp makes it a perfect pairing for a subtly-sweet white wine such as riesling.

AJR Pick: – Pacific Rim 2014 Riesling (Washington State – $10.99). Pacific Rim’s Riesling offers bright crispness, subtle sweetness and aromas of pear and apple, the wine exemplifies the harmony of Riesling.  Its natural sweetness makes it a perfect contrast, thus pairing, to a spicy dish is a natural fit.

Grilled, Teriyaki Chicken:

Sometimes you just want to keep BBQ night really simple with grilled chicken, Teriyaki or otherwise, so you can save room for the delicious sides (potato chips, coleslaw, fruit salad, etc.) We recommend keeping it equally “simple” and clean with an unoaked California Chardonnay.

AJR PickSt. Francis 2014 Intatto (“untouched”) Chardonnay (Sonoma Coast – $17.99). This wine’s clean, unoaked character lets the natural vibrancy of the Chardonnay grape shine through. The result is a clean, crisp, wine, with intense minerality and fresh aromas of grapefruit and lychee. A perfect pairing for grilled chicken.


Good, Old Fashioned Hamburger:

Since the best burgers are juicy and tasty, whether adorned in lettuce, tomato, onion and cheese or something more unique, they make the perfect pairing for an all-American “claret” (Bordeaux Blend).

AJR Pick: Chappellet 2014 Mountain Cuvee: blackberry and black cherry dominate this delicious Napa Valley Bordeaux Blend. Almost equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, a hint of smokiness in it makes it a perfect accompaniment to your charred cuisine. ($33.99)

Grilled Steak:

If you’re going to splurge on your BBQ night with a grilled steak, you might as well go all-out in our minds with some delicious wine. And there’s nothing more American than our great nation’s signature varietal, Zinfandel.

Photo via Wine Cooler

Photo via Wine Cooler

AJR Pick: Chateau Montelena 2013 Zinfandel. The opposite of the super raisin-y, high alcoholic, typical Zinfandels, Montelena’s is balanced, thus totally food-friendly. Ripe blackberry flavors and balanced by a wide array of spices (nutmeg, pepper), culminating in a powerful yet restrained finish. Zinfandel’s lush and often natural spice character make it a perfect pairing for grass-fed steak, however, prepared. ($30)



Alyssa Rapp is the Managing Partner of AJR Ventures, a strategic advisory firm to companies in the beverage/consumer package goods/luxury goods spaces, ranging in size from well-funded start-ups to Fortune 500’s. She is also a Lecturer in Management at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business on the Global Dynamics of the Wine Industry. She previously served as the founder and CEO of Bottlenotes, Inc. and is the author of Bottlenotes Guide to Wine: Around the World in 80 Sips. Photo via and Getty images.

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