Independence Day isn't just another three-day escape from the office. Yes, it's freedom and fireworks, but the Fourth of July isn't complete without ample amounts of food and wine. If your plans don't include the hotdog-eating contest on Coney Island, here are a few things that might help make your weekend enjoyable.
For starters, we've pulled together a list of some recently tasted $15-and-under American wines. Topping the list is the 2004 Ferrari-Carano Fumé Blanc from Sonoma, a 91-point Smart Buy from the July 31, 2005, issue of Wine Spectator. But everything on the list is right for summer drinking, including some reds, a rosé and a sparkling wine that are all perfect to pop open as you sit under the stars and watch the fireworks.
If you plan on cooking out, it's important to have good grilling gear as well as the right finishing touches. So take a look at The Grills of a Lifetime, not to mention some All-American barbecue sauces—they're sure to please, whatever you're cooking up.
So pull out the corkscrew, fire up the grill and enjoy the holiday weekend!
|FERRARI-CARANO Fumé Blanc Sonoma County 2004||91||$15|
|A terrific, stylistic effort. Vibrant and lively, with a delicious mix of orange rind, grapefruit, fig compote and subtle grass tones. Lemon blossom and tart quince flavors keep pumping out the intensity through the finish. Drink now through 2007. 30,000 cases made.
|KENWOOD Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma County 2004||91||$13|
|Tangy, with high-toned lemon-lime, grapefruit, fig and peach flavors. Already harmonious, with a bright vibrancy that will complement food. Kenwood's at the top of its Sauvignon game. Drink now through 2007. 78,000 cases made.
|CHATEAU SOUVERAIN Sauvignon Blanc Alexander Valley 2004||90||$14|
|Tight and concentrated. Slowly unfolds to reveal a medley of rich grass, lemon-lime, fig and floral character, with a citrus tanginess lingering on the finish. Drink now through 2006. 9,468 cases made.
|ARGYLE Chardonnay Willamette Valley 2003||89||$13|
|Juicy and refreshing, with a delicate range of pear, apple, grapefruit and creamy spice flavors that linger on the refined finish. To be released September 2005. Drink now through 2007. 12,100 cases made.
|ATWATER ESTATE Riesling Finger Lakes 2003||89||$14|
|Ripe and juicy, with lots of pear, slate, fig and honeysuckle notes that stay fresh through the rich finish. Nice hint of anise at the very end. Drink now through 2006.
|CONCANNON Petite Sirah Central Coast Selected Vineyards 2002||88||$12|
|Ripe and broad-shouldered, a potent wine with excellent depth to the extracted blueberry, raisin and white pepper flavors. Almost viscous fruit texture folds into chewy, solid tannins on the finish. Drink now through 2009. 13,100 cases made.
|KING ESTATE Pinot Gris Oregon 2003||88||$15|
|Bright and tangy, with nectarine and grapefruit notes, lingering nicely on the open-textured finish. Drink now. 48,900 cases made.
|ROSENBLUM Viognier Santa Barbara County Kathy's Cuvee 2003||88||$14|
|Rich and fragrant, with creamy orange blossom, apricot and vanilla spice, with ripe and full-bodied flavors of nectarine, pear and toasted almonds that emphasize toasty oak on the long finish. Drink now. 2,446 cases made.
|SEBASTIANI Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2003||88||$15|
|Plenty of vanilla and cedary oak to overcome, but the ripe plum and black cherry flavors are up to the task. A hint of lavender and nutmeg adds a tasty dimension, and it's hard to find a better value in Pinot Noir. Drink now through 2007. 16,300 cases made.
|EDNA VALLEY Chardonnay Edna Valley Paragon 2003||87||$14|
|Well-proportioned, with a tight focus on a beam of citrus, melon and green apple flavors that are pure, ending with a touch of spiciness. Drink now. 163,000 cases made.
|SAGELANDS Merlot Columbia Valley Four Corners 2002||87||$12|
|Lithe and refined, with a charry tobacco edge to the raspberry and red plum flavors, lingering effectively. Drink now through 2008. 27,600 cases made.
|BOGLE Petite Sirah California 2002||86||$10|
|Bold, rich and complex, with raisin, prune, wild berry and cola flavors that are supported by big, rich tannins. Finishes with an intense aftertaste. Drink now through 2005. 95,000 cases made.
|CHATEAU ST. JEAN Cabernet Sauvignon California 2002||86||$15|
|Dense and concentrated, with rich, earthy currant and blackberry fruit that's a little muddled and lacking a sharp focus. Still, it speaks clearly of Cabernet with its concentration and depth. New California appellation Cabernet from St. Jean. Drink now through 2008. 20,000 cases made.
|COLUMBIA CREST Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley Two Vines 2002||86||$8|
|Soft, supple and appealing for its gently spicy cherry and herb flavors, echoing on the polished finish. Drink now through 2008. 85,000 cases made.
|ERATH Pinot Noir Oregon 2003||85||$15|
|Light in color and flavor, with spicy raspberry flavors that become tart on the finish. Drink now through 2007. 27,683 cases made.
|KENDALL-JACKSON Riesling California Vintner's Reserve 2004||85||$10|
|A pretty wine, with nutty, floral and peach aromas and appealing flavors that show a hint of sweetness. Drink now. 50,000 cases made.|
|RANCHO ZABACO Zinfandel California Dancing Bull 2002||85||$10|
|Tangy, vibrant hints of orange peel and wild berry are supported by firm tannins. A solid value. Drink now. 397,000 cases made.
|SMOKING LOON Merlot California 2003||85||$9|
|Soft and easy to drink, with cherry and spice aromas and flavors-and a hint of root beer-plus just enough depth to keep it interesting. Drink now. 325,000 cases made.|
|SOLOROSA Rosé California 2004||85||$15|
|Looks, smells and tastes like an underripe strawberry, which works well in this style of rosé, as the acidity keeps the flavors lively and refreshing. Sangiovese and Merlot. Drink now. 2,300 cases made.