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.

Do you have any suggestions? Send them along! Read on for an easy-to-prepare-at-home no-need-for-a-recipe fabulous dinner paired with an affordable bottle of wine and a viewing suggestion. We’re here to help you sit back, wine down and chill.

Red, white and … sangria!

I love when my readers give me suggestions! This week’s selection was inspired by my cuzzie, Linda. What better way to celebrate Independence Day weekend? In fact, this Old Fashioned Sangria, inspired by the cocktail that bears its name, is a new recipe that I’ve pulled together. I think that it is so good that you will want to celebrate with it every weekend this summer.

Old Fashioned cocktails contain varying amounts of Bourbon, simple syrup and orange bitters. Plus, they are traditionally spritzed and garnished with a zest of an orange peel. I happen to like Bourbon. And you already know that I like wine. So the fact that I’ve combined them should come as no surprise.

Wine down and chill sangria!

Over the weekend, we had some lovely guests (hi Mike & Linda! Another Linda, coincidentally…) which prompted us to chat about Bourbon, wine and other goodies. Basically, scotch = whisky = bourbon. Scotch is whiskey (aka whisky) distilled from malted barley in Scotland whereas it’s simply called “whiskey” if it’s made anywhere else. Bourbon is whiskey distilled from corn and is most commonly made in Kentucky. In a tragedy of sorts, one of the Jim Beam bourbon warehouses caught on fire earlier this week: over 40,000 barrels went up in smoke. In fact, they let the fire burn so that the distilled runoff doesn’t poison nearby rivers like the fire did last year which killed hundreds of fish. Thankfully, nobody was hurt this time but what a waste!

Think big

Sangrias are made for sharing so volume is a critical aspect of this week’s column. Centuries ago when the drink debuted, it was designed for children and adults as a means of staying hydrated given that water consumption was ill-advised at the time. Historians believe that sangria has been around in Spain since ~200BC. Throughout the last two centuries, this fruity wine punch has been typically red. However, white, “Sangria Blanco,” and bubbly, “Sangria Burbujeante” versions are now commonplace. It made its first appearance in the USA at the 1964 World’s Fair so sangrias are relatively new on this side of the pond but very popular.

You simply can’t go wrong with this wine down and chill recipe. Combine 2L of the new Canada Dry Ginger Ale and Orangeade pop/soda with two bottles (or a 1.5L magnum) of your favorite Sauvignon Blanc. I recommend KiaOra Marlborough Sauv Blanc. No need to spend a whole paycheck here, you’re diluting it with sugar water after all. Add a cup of Bulleit Bourbon. Then cube a tart apple like an Ida Red or Jazz variety, cube a green pear, slice up a navel orange into edible bites and toss in a whole cluster of green grapes. Stir and pour over ice. It not only looks beautiful, but it also tastes fantastic!

L’Eggo my burger

Prepare for fisticuffs! Seriously, these burgers are sooooo good that you may end up duking it out. Especially if there is only one left. But don’t be that host: make sure that you have extras of everything on hand for your guests.

Four ingredients and four steps

One, throw a few Beyond Meat veggie burgers on the grill (they’re even meatier and juicier now). Alternative protein choices like turkey, salmon, chicken or beef burgers work, too.

Two, throw a few Eggo waffles on the grill once the burgers are nearly done.

Three, garnish with fresh lettuce. Some people may opt for slices of tomato or red onions but I don’t think you need to for this burger!

Four, layer on a healthy slab of Hellmann’s organic spicy chipotle mayo. That’s really all that you need unless you are a pickle freak like I am. If so, then go ahead, add a handful of Claussen dill pickle sandwich slices to get that crispy crunch thing going.

Pour yourself a glass of sangria then light up a citronella candle to convince yourself that the bugs won’t bother you if you do. Then exhale. It’s time to wine down and chill on your patio or picnic blanket.

Stranger things have happened

I know that you’re ready to wine down and chill, but are you ready for Stranger Things? Like 21 months of waiting wasn’t enough to stoke your appetite for more. You may have missed Seasons 1 and 2 of this SciFi, but you just can’t miss Season 3 on Netflix. For this round, the kids have grown up and embraced more mature themes like dating, the perils of adolescence and a more disturbing level of darkness.

If you were one of the three-point-five people in the country who didn’t watch the first two seasons, here’s a refresher. In fact, the airing of Season 2 created wide hysteria and ushered a new catch-phrase into our lexicon as well as a new behavior – “binge watching.” Part of its broad appeal is its deeply nostalgic feel that harkens the simplicity of the 1980s – a stark contrast from the complexities and challenges of navigating through today’s workplace and social media.

The value that this show lends to brand awareness has not been lost on marketers. Everyone is going “retro.” Burger King just launched its Upside-Down Whopper, wormholes and the underworld cross-over portals have suddenly appeared in Fortnite, the video mega-hit by Epic Games. My stepkids got a VIP tour of Netflix with its Stranger Things exhibit and were mesmerized by it. So naturally, we’ll be settling in for a marathon wine down and chill viewing session of the complete Season 3. Good thing we’ve made lots of sangria for the grown-ups!

Cheers!