Kim Kelly

Say it ain’t so, but ready or not, Labor Day is here marking the unofficial end of summer.  It’s time to get outside and embrace summer’s last hurrah or perhaps consider it a second chance given the spectacular forecast for the weekend!  Whether your plan is to hit the trails, hop on your paddleboard or just gather around the grill with friends and family there’s an opportunity to explore some new adult beverages.

Let’s talk Labor Day grillin’and chillin’. When it comes to juicy burgers, BBQ ribs, spicy chicken, marinated flank steak or the fresh catch of the day, a versatile wine selection is key.  With the full flavored smoky notes imparted on grilled foods cooked over an open flame you may want to consider a nice summer red.  Think fruity and lower in alcohol, even something that can take a little chill. Consider a California pinot noir or stay in Virginia with a local cabernet franc.  Both are juicy reds, with tastes of cherries, raspberries and subtle hints of spice and herbs.  The tannins  are lower and acidity higher making them a divine match up for a lean flank steak or even salmon and grilled vegetables too.

Of course it still feels like summer, so don’t forget those refreshing chilled whites. The crisp herbaceous qualities found in sauvignon blanc make a great pairing for grilled trout or shrimp skewers basted with lemon butter and fresh herbs.  A full-bodied chardonnay or chenin blanc match up nicely to grilled buttered corn or richly flavored chicken thighs.

Oh and there’s always room for beer on a fabulous 3-day weekend.  Nothing beats a tub filled with ice and packed with an assortment of craft brews.  Now for my shameless plug, should you need some beer inspiration, look no further than downtown Culpeper.  That’s right, Culpeper Renaissance is bringing you Hoptoberfest!  It takes place in the Depot District on Sunday, Sept. 4 from noon – 5 p.m. This Gnarly fall beer event will feature not only a broad selection of American craft beers with a focus on Virginia, but there’s also a selection of German and Belgian brews too.  Also be sure to bring your wine loving amigos to this event, as there are six Virginia wineries to sample and if you find a few that you can’t live without, you can buy a few bottles to take home.  Sampling, listening to great music and noshing the afternoon away, seems like a pretty sweet option for this long weekend.

So there you have it, a few basic guidelines and suggestions to get your holiday started.  Ultimately, it simply comes down to what you enjoy and that applies to both beverages and people!  Surround yourself with all the right elements and you’re sure to have a super Labor Day weekend filled with relaxation and enjoyment.  Cheers!

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