One of the reasons I moved to Sonoma County 24 years ago was to get away from the sweltering Midwestern summers. Back then, few people in Sonoma had air conditioning because they didn't need it.
That's not true anymore.
Heat waves are no longer unusual, with 95° to 100° F days stretching for a week at a time. That's been the case this week, when much of the western United States is baking. Tomorrow, on the Fourth of July, the thermometer could reach nearly 100° F at my house.
I usually smoke ribs or a brisket or chicken on Independence Day, but that's not going to happen this year. I'll be outside as little as possible. As Woody Allen said, "I don't tan. I stroke." This year I'll grill salmon or something else that's easy and light.
As for the wine, it's bubbly for me. Not only will it go well with the heat and salmon, but also the Fourth is a day of celebration after all, right?
Some of my current favorites from California include Iron Horse Wedding Cuvée Green Valley of Russian River Valley 2008 (92 points, $38) and Roederer Estate Brut Anderson Valley NV (91, $23), which are both sleek and vibrant. Domaine Carneros Brut Carneros 2008 (90, $27) is festive and floral, and the 2009 is just entering the market and it's equally as good.
I also look to Italy for sparkling wines that beat the heat. Look for Cavit Brut Prosecco Lunetta NV (86, $13), which is juicy and loaded with peach, melon and spice flavors, as well as the mouthwatering Carlo Bisol Solighetto Extra Dry Prosecco L'Enso NV (88, $23).
What are you celebrating with tomorrow, especially those of you trying to keep cool?