When winemakers in California began to seriously cultivate the red wine grapes of Bordeaux (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, etc.) to compete on even footing with the French, it created both a successful business model, plus expectations among connoisseurs and collectors. The ante was raised with the American “victory” in the judgment of Paris.
The effect was almost a oenophilic American Revolution: the strident intent of the Declaration of Independence; and the closure (and location) of the Treaty of Paris. All was combined in a collective swirl-sniff-and-sip – no bayonets, no musket fire. And delightfully, all to the chagrin of wine’s most obstinate Loyalists. This accomplishment is especially important, considering the American Nation’s 239th birthday in the offing.
A great way to celebrate not only this triumph of domestic wine and indulge in a little patriotic imbibing is at Chicago’s Bread & Wine, and with an American favorite: BBQ chicken. The evening will be casual, with no tickets needed. RSVP to 773/866-5266. Special offered Saturday night only (July 4th). Cost: $25 per person.*
“My Grandpa always did smoked chicken for the family BBQs, so I wanted to do chicken for the main dish,” says Bread & Wine Chef Caleb Trahan. “Grandpa also made moonshine (which might be how he passed the time, starting early in the morning when he’d start the pit), and I wanted the chicken to have had a few drinks, as well. So, drunken chicken sounded quite appropriate!”
Bread & Wine’s complete 4th of July Menu:
1/4 Drunken BBQ chicken
Carrot Raisin Slaw
Smoked Potato Salad
Baked Beans w/ White Bread
Yellow Cake, Fluffy Icing, Pop Rocks
Suggested Wine Pairings: Bread & Wine Rosé of Grenache to begin the evening, followed by Bread & Wine House Red (Tempranillo). Both wines are made in California.
*The dinner (plus wine pairing) is $45 // Dinner alone: $25. Only cheese, charcuterie and desserts will still be available separate from the 4th of July BBQ menu.
Meanwhile, the wine world continues its perpetual revolution: California/Napa Valley Cabernet, and other Bordeaux blends and meritage wines now have a tough reputation to uphold. So, the better offerings end up being priced in a similar range as their illustrious French counterparts. Where to turn for value?
“We can truly make the greatest wines in the world,” says Chicago-based sommelier Michael Taylor. “What we didn’t do much of (and what many European countries have been doing for centuries) is cultivating grape varietals for wines that can be enjoyed on an everyday basis.”
So, with the 4th of July approaching, many American wine drinkers might feel a certain patriotic urge to enjoy wines that are indigenous to the homeland – our domestic terroir. The Bread & Wine Rosé of Grenache, along with the Bread & Wine House Red (Tempranillo), are perfect examples of these types of wines. Huzzah!