First observed in 1882, Labor Day officially celebrates workers and trade unions across the United States. Unofficially, this three-day weekend is about sending off summer with a bang.
What better way to wrap up summer than firing up the grill for a barbecue? If you’re putting together a menu then you’re going to want some wine pairings. So, we chose some barbecue classics and offered up our picks of American wines to match. Because there isn’t a better way to celebrate the workforce than by exploring the vast world of U.S. wine.
So, sit back and enjoy the long weekend. You’ve definitely earned it.
Everyone has their own burger topping style, which has a heavy influence over what wine to pair with it. However, in general you’ll want a wine with enough body to hold its own against the meat. Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignons are always a safe bet, but you can also look for lighter reds that are best served chilled like some Pinot Noirs.
Joleté 2017 Cuvée Select Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley); $21, 91 points. A sensational value, this sends up an aromatic mix of rose lotion, cherry blossom and fresh herbs. The wine is smooth and balanced, with plenty of pretty cherry fruit loading up the center palate. Tannins are moderate, ripe and proportionate. At this price, it’s virtually peerless. Editor’s Choice. —Paul Gregutt
Meadow View 2016 Isabelle’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon; $25, 91 points. The ripe and rich fruit flavors in this full-bodied wine are shaded by light oak spices and shaped by soft tannins. It is mouthfilling in texture, coating the palate with opulent black-cherry and dried cherry flavors. —Jim Gordon
Pike Road 2018 Chardonnay (Willamette Valley); $18, 91 points. This is a richly fruity wine, with apple, pear and kiwi flavors in abundance. It softens up on the midpalate, with a spicy cinnamon kick through the finish. The length, balance and big fruit flavors are impressive. Editors’ Choice. —P.G.
LifeVine 2017 Chardonnay (California); $15, 90 points. This is a pretty, medium-bodied and well-balanced wine that blends crisp fruit flavors, light spices and a touch of butter, all in good harmony. It has vivid green-apple, lemon and floral aromas followed by Anjou pear and lime on the palate. Best Buy. —J.G.
Nothing brings together a meal quite like a giant salad. But they are notoriously difficult to pair with wine. Ideally the wine should be more acidic then the dressing. To help tone down the tartness of the vinaigrette add some mayonnaise, heavy cream or honey, or swap fresh orange or grapefruit juice for lemon and lime. Look for reds like Gamay and Pinot Noir and whites like Grüner Veltliner or Sauvignon Blanc.
Ayres 2017 Gamay Noir (Chehalem Mountains); $25, 92 points. It’s hard to imagine a better Oregon Gamay, a variety attracting growing interest among many of the state’s wineries. Loaded with rich, ripe berry fruit, this is a juicy and delightful bottle, balanced and sporting just the right natural acidity. It’s too good to be called a porch pounder, yet somehow that description fits perfectly. Editors’ Choice. —P.G.
W.T. Vintners 2018 Underwood Mountain Vineyard Grüner Veltliner (Columbia Gorge); $22, 92 points. This is the first vintage where half the fruit was macerated for 36 hours. The variety is unmistakable, with aromas of green apple, citrus, pear, lentil and herb. Racy, intense acidity frames a textured palate. A sense of salinity heightens the interest. It’s a benchmark for the state. —Sean P. Sullivan
Bernardus 2018 Griva Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (Arroyo Seco); $24, 91 points. Clean and taut on the nose, this bottling shows a blend of passion fruit, lime skin and rainy cement on the pristine and delicate nose. There is a great snap to the palate, where rounded flavors of red pear and passion fruit are quite forward, yet also tightly woven. —Matt Kettmann
Thirsty Owl Wine Company 2018 Plane Vineyard Pinot Noir Rosé (Finger Lakes); $15, 89 points. Pale-peachy-pink in hue, this offers a bight nose of peach, honeydew and white cherry. The palate follows suit, showing a pleasing juicy roundness of fruit flavors balance by bright, zesty acidity and a tangy mineral element. It lingers on tart citrus and peach tones. —Alexander Peartree
It may take awhile to make pulled pork sandwiches, but they are definitely well-worth the wait. You’ll want vibrant reds and juicy rosés to wash away the fattiness that can linger.
Paix Sur Terre 2017 Songs of Its Own Red (Adelaida District); $55, 93 points. Snappy pomegranate, hibiscus and rose-petal aromas are sprinkled with sarsaparilla spice on the nose of this blend of 52% Grenache, 45% Mourvèdre and 3% Cinsault. It’s light bodied on the palate, where refreshing flavors of cranberry, pomegranate and orange rind make for a lively sip. —M.K.
Dawn’s Dream 2018 Clone 236 Pinot Noir Rosé (Santa Lucia Highlands); $35, 91 points. Hints of strawberry and nectarine meet with river stones on the nose of this very pleasing Pinot Noir-based rosé. It’s high toned on the palate, with fresh acidity and broad flavors of peach and red plum, with a long-lasting zip. —M.K.
Chateau Chantal NV Dry Naughty Red (Michigan); $14, 89 points. This see-through blend made up primarily of 37% Gamay and 30% Pinot Noir smells of peppercorns, weathered wood, fallen leaves and ripe berries. Mouthwatering acidity highlights pomegranate and plum flavors, joined by savory herbs and minimal, but supportive tannins. White-pepper and blackberry flavors round out the finish of this medium-weight food-friendly red. Best Buy. —Fiona Adams
Joyce 2018 Turbidity Current Rosé (Monterey County); $22, 89 points. A pretty shade of pale-pink, this blend of 63% Grenache and 37% Gamay Noir shows strawberry, bubblegum and chalky aromas on the nose. There is a great grip to the tip of the sip, where flavors of tangy plum flesh ride a persistent acidity. —M.K.
While it may not seem possible, when done right carrot dogs taste a lot like hot dogs and are a great way to ensure your vegetarian guests will have something to eat aside from a salad. For this dish, look for a fruity wine that will accompany the sweetness of the carrot.
Walnut City WineWorks 2015 Furioso Vineyard Riesling (Dundee Hills); $25, 92 points. This excellent single-vineyard cuvée is substantial and fruit-driven, a mix of sweet apple, peach and papaya. Technically off-dry, it’s sourced from 45-year-old vines, and it lingers generously with ample acidity keeping it lively right on through. Editors’ Choice. —P.G.
Opolo 2018 Rosé (Central Coast); $24, 89 points. Red cherry and vanilla meet with plumeria and orange rind on the unique nose of this rosé, which is a blend of 65% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 5% Viognier. The palate combines strawberry and red-plum flavors with a solid amount of acidity. —M.K.
La Crema 2017 Pinot Noir (Monterey); $23, 89 points. This widely available wine is a great midweek sipper. Light in the glass, it offers clean aromas of pomegranate, hibiscus and light touches of toasty oak. It’s soft and mellow on the palate with cranberry, strawberry and tarragon flavors. Editors’ Choice. —M.K.
Good Harbor 2017 Chardonnay (Leelanau Peninsula); $15, 89 points. Aromas of white pepper and peach fuzz can be teased out of the restrained nose of this unoaked Chardonnay. Light bodied and juicy, it has surprisingly concentrated flavors of ripe melon, apple and lime juice. Lingering tones of ripe peach and white pepper mark the finish. —F.A.