About this time every year, with summer peaking, blasting us with its triple-digit temperatures, I like to write about my favorite way to chill.
New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day can take care of themselves. Now's when our morale needs crisp, cold wine.
It needn't be expensive. Maybe it shouldn't be, because we may mistreat it a little in the heat of the summer moment. We may jam it into ice-filled chests to carry to beach, boat or patio, chilling it below the 40- to 50-degree temperature experts usually recommend for good bubbly.
So save the $100 bottles for fine dining indoors when the weather outside is frightfully cold, and you're serving caviar, smoked sturgeon and the like.
If there exists an all-purpose wine, it's probably bubbly whether Champagne, sparkling wine, cava, spumante or sekt. It's great, and cooling, by itself as an apéritif. It's the perfect sip with fried chicken, with all those bubbles cutting through the fat. It's good with sushi, subtle enough not to interfere. It lends a touch of class to the great American hot dog.
Lightly sweet bubblies go well with spicy food Thai green curry shrimp, Tex-Mex tacos, three-alarm chili. The sweetest bubblies are great with cherries, peaches, apricots and other in-season fruits. Sweet red bubblies go surprisingly well with chocolate.
True bubbly-philes even allege that bubblies go with big, charcoaled New York strip steaks. Try it and see. They're certainly fine with grilled chicken, fish or veggies.
Stop me if I've told you this before, but my favorite way of grilling on a scorching July or August back porch is to pull the grill as close as possible to the back door, stand in the doorway with the A/C blasting at my back and comfort myself with a cool glass of bubbly.
Nonvintage Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs Sparkling Wine, Carneros (92 percent pinot noir, 8 percent chardonnay): pale hue, lively bubbles, with raspberry and citrus flavors, dry; $22.
Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut Sparkling Wine, Washington state: pale hue, golden apple flavors, lively, crisp and dry; $11.
Nonvintage Freixenet Cordon Negro Cava, Spain: 35 percent macabeo, 25 percent xarel-lo, 40 percent parellada): lots of lively bubbles, light hue, aromas and flavors of green apples and lemons, crisp finish; $11.
Nonvintage Rosé Spumante, Veneto VSAQ, Italy (34 percent pinot bianco, 33 percent pinot nero, 33 percent raboso): lightly fizzy, lightly sweet, with floral aromas and strawberry flavors; $15.
Nonvintage Barefoot Bubbly Pinot Grigio California "Champagne:" active bubbles, medium sweet ripe apricot flavors with tart lemon finish, $12.
Nonvintage Barefoot Bubbly Spumante California "Champagne:" active bubbles, quite sweet orange and lime flavors; $12.
2011 Vecchia Modena Lambrusco di Sorbara DOP, by Cleto Chiarli: rose hue, soft bubbles, quite dry, pink grapefruit flavors, crisp finish; $15.
2011 Vigneto Enrico Cialdini Lambrusco Gasparossa di Castelvetro DOP, by Cleto Chiarli: bright red hue, quite dry, light body, aromas and flavors of black raspberries; $15.
2011 Centenario Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro DOP, by Cleto Chiarli, Italy: deep red hue, lively bubbles, aromas and flavors of strawberries and raspberries, fairly sweet; $11.
Nonvintage Ferrari Rose, Trento, Italy (60 percent pinot nero, 40 percent chardonnay: rose hue, floral aromas, strawberry flavors, fairly dry; $37.
Nonvintage Mionetto Moscato Dolce, Veneto, Italy: light yellow hue, quite sweet, tangerine aromas and flavors, crisp finish; $14.