Summer is finally here in earnest, and it's time to start planning for Independence Day, summer's official holiday, where a casual spirit needn't rule out great wine and food. July 4 celebrations call for fireworks and sparklers: in the glass, on the plate and in the sky.
American sparkling wines, served ice-cold in stemless glasses or flutes, serve the same refreshing purpose as the beer so often associated with summer entertaining, and so we've put together a list of recently rated sparklers from California and New Mexico. These bubblies complement the smoke, spice and gentle citrus tang in Grilled Scallop Ceviche, a recipe from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, a much-lauded smoke joint based in Syracuse, N.Y., with outlets in Rochester, Troy, Manhattan and Newark, N.J.
Make and refrigerate the marinade the day before your party, and combine it with the shellfish a few hours before firing up the grill. For easy party style, serve the scallops family-style, along with corn on the cob, plantain chips, guacamole and cold fresh fruit.
Recipe from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que: An American Roadhouse by John Stage and Nancy Radke (Ten Speed Press, 2001)
• 1 1/2 pounds sea scallops (preferably dry-packed)
• 2 tablespoons minced seeded jalapeño pepper
• 1 cup Mojito Marinade (see below)
• 2 tablespoons finely diced red bell pepper
• 1 lime, cut into 8 wedges
Note: If you're using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for 10 minutes before skewering the scallops; otherwise the wood will scorch on the grill.
1. Place the scallops into a glass or stainless steel bowl. Combine the jalapeños and the marinade and pour over the scallops. Marinate for 1 to 2 hours in the refrigerator.
2. Fire up the grill; then get back inside and fish the scallops out of the marinade. Pat them dry and string them onto skewers (see note, above). Pour the marinade into a small saucepan and bring it to a rapid boil. Toss in the red peppers, turn the heat to low, and simmer for 2 minutes. Keep warm.
3. Grill the scallops over the hot coals for about 2 minutes on each side, or until the edges are tinged with a rich brown color and the flesh turns opaque. Ring a plate with lime wedges. Slide the scallops off the skewers and pile them up in the center of the plate. Pour on the sauce and serve family style, with a bunch of toothpicks so everyone can dig in. Serves 4 to 6.
• 1/4 cup chopped garlic
• 1/2 cup chopped onion
• 2 cups fresh orange juice
• 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
• 1/2 cup olive oil
• 4 teaspoons kosher salt
• 1 tablespoon black pepper
• 2 teaspoons ground cumin
• 2 teaspoons dried oregano
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1. Mix together the garlic, onions, orange juice and lime juice in a bowl.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan until just smoking. Now cover up your arms and put some potholder mitts on your hands because you're about to do something that is contrary to good cooking practice but produces great flavor release. Slide the contents of the bowl into the hot oil—be very careful because the liquid will splatter. Simmer for 5 minutes to soften the onions and garlic. Season the marinade with the rest of the ingredients.
3. Pour everything into a blender or food processor and pulse 3 times to combine. Pour into a plastic container and cool to room temperature; then cover and refrigerate. Mojito Marinade keeps up to 2 weeks. Makes 2 1/2 cups.
RECOMMENDED AMERICAN SPARKLING WINES
Note: The following list is a selection of outstanding and very good wines from recently rated releases. More wines can be found in our Wine Ratings Search.
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