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If you’re ready to wine down and chill, then you’ve come to the right place. Return here each Friday to find a food & wine column that’s fun to read and suggests terrific wine-movie pairings that go with the theme. You never know what’s next for our  “Wine Down for the Weekend” column. Read on for an easy-to-prepare-at-home no-need-for-a-recipe fabulous dinner paired with an affordable wine and a viewing suggestion. We’re here to help you sit back, wine down and chill. 

Getting gauche

Today’s theme is about being gauche. In French, it translates to “left” or somewhat awkward and the British definition references a lack of social grace and awkwardness. Both are perfect for today!

There is something equally perverse and compelling to juxtapose a French wine with the snobby and aspirational art of wine tasting with a messy, American burger-inspired slider. I don’t know why, but I had to do it. Somehow, doing so represented the essence of what this wine down and chill column is all about – making wine accessible to the masses. Making it fun. And making it whatever you want it to be. Plus, it is summer for the next five or six weeks or so, which means that we had better get out there and enjoy it while we can!

Of course, French wines have earned their nobility through centuries of excellent craftsmanship. There are a plethora of good reasons why French wines can run in the thousands to tens of thousands of dollars per bottle. However, that’s not our focus here.

Pardon my French

Today’s wine is not only spot-on given our theme, but it’s actually perfect for this time of year. It’s a Beaujolais, which means it’s a young, drink-now, inexpensive wine that is ideally suited to be served in the summer slightly chilled. Not to mention the whole wine down and chill thing. Picnic fare has never been complemented so well! Pardon & Fils Beaujolais-Villages rings up at only $13 a bottle at Total Wine so it’s a heck of a bargain.

Pardon et Fils is a vineyard in Beaujeu, France, which is the capital of all Beaujolais wines. The winery was established in 1820 so it’s learned a thing or two about wine-making. This wine has vibrant notes of cherry and cassis, which are flavors that I am particularly drawn to, hence my love of Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignons, so this is a good alternative.

Gamay grapes hail back to the 14th Century and are renowned for their abundant yields. They are light-bodied and fruity and often regarded as the poor cousin of Pinot Noir. Just imagine a French nobleman sneering down at a Beaujolais and you’ll get the idea why they aren’t highly regarded. But that’s an unfairly bad rap! That said, sommeliers love them because they are a good wine to onboard young enthusiasts.

Messy just tastes better

As much as I daydream about having a daily Martha Stewart moment with perfect presentation, pressed napkins, polished napkin rings, and food artfully splayed on expensive platters, that’s not how it goes down in our house. We have two teenagers who are hungry ALL. THE. TIME. The hubby who works out as much as he eats. And two big dogs who took about 2.5 seconds to learn that the dining table offers many more delectable options than the dog food platform.

In a nutshell, the food that I prepare tastes better than it looks. And, go figger, nobody in the house complains about that. These messy sliders are the perfect complement to a picnic takeaway or backyard patio dining experience. They’re fun, fabulous and did I mention delish?!

Five ingredients and five steps to wine down and chill

One, slice up onions into rings and fry them up in some butter. Yup. If we’re going to go French-style as we have in the past, then butter is essential.

Two, ordinarily, I go for the veg option with respect to the pick-your-protein part of my wine down and chill column, but the seitan curds just don’t work here. Pick up a packet of sliced roast beast from your deli. If you don’t eat it, your guests will! At worst, skip the roast beast and get cheesy!

Three, carve open a package of King’s Hawaiian slider buns. Use a kitchen paintbrush to spread equal parts Hidden Valley ranch salad dressing and Kraft A.1. Sauce on both the top and bottom buns.

Four, layer slices of smoked Gouda cheese, roast beast then another layer of Gouda. Slop on the fried onions with all their greasy goodness.

Five, sprinkle on French’s crispy fried onions. Assemble the slider top bun and put into a casserole dish. Then take a small bowl and whisk up a little olive oil, sea salt, parmesan and Italian spice mix (dried oregano will work just fine). Paint on the oil mixture. Bake the sliders for about 12-15 min around 325°F so that they become warm and gooey.

Pour yourself an extra-large glass of our festive French red Gamay because it’s now time to wine down and chill.

Somm like it French …

Did you see the person trapped inside the wine glass? Fuhgettaboutit! Wine Down and Chill instead!

My pick? Somm, a 2013 documentary about the lives of four sommeliers (wine-tasters) embarking on an epic journey through France. They live, breathe and drink wine on the path to getting their Master Sommelier Diploma. The failure rates are extremely high: fewer than four people per year have been awarded the highly coveted diploma since it was introduced around 40 years ago so their journey is as intense as it is informative.

At the risk of issuing a spoiler alert, the movie has a few twists: the people you expect to certify don’t. The movie offers some deep insights into the complexity of the craft. It has some spectacular cinematography of inviting vineyards and wine glasses being smashed oh-so-artistically to capture the feeling of intensity at the breaking point. And, perhaps, a few reasons why you wouldn’t invite those people over for a wine down and chill BBQ.

Sommeliers and the art of wine-tasting

Just try to Wine Down & Chill with these guys …

Admittedly, many of us like to have fun tasting wines, comparing notes and trading tips. However, some people do this for a living. Sommeliers have attained the pinnacle of the craft. There are four stages culminating in the Master Sommelier Diploma distinction: Introductory, Certified then Advanced are the preludes to the ultimate achievement. If you’re up for it, you can register for the program here. Although it’s intense, the subject matter seems a helluva lot more entertaining than the courses I studied to get my Ph.D.… 😉

Cheers!