June 8, 2006


   Home Page

 News & Features


 Columns & Opinions

   Publisher's Note





 Pop Culture



   Video Games
   CD Reviews




   Grazing Guide



   Music Roundup

   Live Music/DJs

   MP3 & Podcasts





 Find A Hippo




   View Classified Ads

   Place a Classified Ad




 Contact Us

   Hippo Staff

   How to Reach The Hippo

 Past Issues

   Browse by Cover

Got milk?

Keep your cool, fool
Presenting the wines, and other snacks, of summer
By Tim Protzman tprotzman@sbcglobal.net

My Aunt Emma lived in a sawmill. She inherited it from her husband. They owned 70 acres on a hilltop in West Virginia. They had the logging rights to the trees in a nearby cemetery and they got a yearly fee from the cemetery association for the use of their driveway, which was the only way funeral processions could enter the graveyard.

Aunt Emma once gave me a cannonball. It was part of a grapeshot cluster, which was like a shotgun shell that went in a cannon. They were pretty deadly in the Civil War. Every summer I think of Aunt Emma, because her sawmill house was the hottest, stuffiest, darkest, most Victorian outpost of Hell on the planet. Even though it was the early 1960s, heavy red drapes, damask, crocheted lace doilies and a coal-burning fireplace decorated her living room. It was a time capsule, untouched for 50 years — a tableau of bad taste circa 1922, the year she moved in and married. The only concession to modernity was the Magnavox Color Console TV, which was used only on Sundays when she watched Lawrence Welk.

I’ve never been a summer person. Give me the chill mornings of autumn, the cool gray of a late-spring afternoon. But keep the heat. I’m big, I sweat and I end up looking like William Jennings Bryant at the Scopes monkey trial. So when summer comes, I slow down even more and find ways to keep cool.

There are thousands of summertime drink recipes. Some are cute. Some are classic. And some are weird. One thing about the heat and alcohol is sometimes it’s not healthy. The alcohol in the beer you chug after mowing the grass on a hot day gets in your system quicker, you get buzzed faster and, even though it’s mostly water, a steady diet of beer or any libation will actually increase your chances of dehydration because it acts as a diuretic, taking fluids out of your body. And many summer activities don’t mix with alcohol. Swimming and boating come to mind. As does grilling with real charcoal and lighter fluid, because at my house someone inevitably leaps over the flaming grill whenever a song about fire comes on the radio. It doesn’t matter which one; “Fire,” “Light My Fire,” “Fire on the Mountain,” “I am the God of Hellfire” or “Burning Down the House” all produce the same result. The best fire jumper ever was a short little guy we called Barney Rubble. And the weirdest summer drinks I ever had were served to me by the Lieutenant.

The Lieutenant was a slightly high-strung dude who came from Ayr, Scotland. He was nice, but a total egomaniac. He’d served in the British Army, played pro soccer and “shagged a lot of birds.” I thought it was a hunting term. He once got so loaded at a company picnic that he took his sock off, dipped it in his drink and whirled it around over his head baptizing everyone with toe jam Cosmos. His house was vaguely reminiscent of Aunt Emma’s, done in a style I called Highlander. The couch was Royal Stuart Plaid. The bathroom Clan Campbell green. It was tasteful, like a chav version of Balmoral, but with an air of haughtiness that said “too bad you’re Americans.” But he was generous with the libations.

One muggy night he rolled out a bar cart of Shandies. It was too hot for his collection of deep-throated peaty single-malts and too late for a leathery cool whiskey mixed with sparkling water. So we tried something light.

Shandies are beer drinks. There’s three kinds, but all of them start with half a glass of pilsner beer. Pilsner is a cold, top fermented beer that’s light in color. You can use any light-colored beer or ale, the crisper the better. The traditional Shandie is half beer, half lemonade. It sounds gross, but it’s actually nice. The lemon and hops bring out each other’s sweetness and the fizziness with the lemon is great.

The second Shandie uses half ginger ale. The spicier the better. This is very thirst-quenching, light and not too zombiefying. The third type is my favorite, just because it’s so different that most people won’t even try it. It’s half beer and half tomato juice (don’t use V8). I cheat and squeeze a lemon wedge in. This is a Bloody Mary without the spice, and much less of the punch. Shandies are fun, but not every day. Like withthe Lieutenant, repeated encounters become cloying and tiring.

Here are some wines that go with summer times, food and temperature.

Beringer White Merlot, $4.99: Like a white zinfandel, but just a touch lighter, with a few more tannins. Drank half a carafe of this one while trapped at a picnic where the topic of discussion was corn on the cob.

R. H. Phillips White Zinfandel, $5.99: Has a sparkly flavor. I made fun of this one at a cheap and cheesy wedding reception where my drink choices were this, wine coolers or head to the tavern. Thought I was too good for it, but it’s delicious — light with lemon, tannins and some minerals. Watched three college students polish off two bottles and pick up a bride’s maid.

Girard Russian River Valley Chardonnay, $17.99: Good with barbecue, cheese and hearty foods. Watercress sandwiches won’t stand up to this big wine. Nice for a day of sailing or boating. Had this on a friend’s 35’Egg Harbor. The best thing was that his wife’s top kept coming off when she dove in the water.

A smaller more demure wine would be Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc $15.99. While the Girard Chardonnay is great, this one is just as good, but a touch more subtle. It’s a Fume Blanc, which is the same as sauvignon blanc and it’s more vegetable friendly. And light, fresh summer eating is where it’s at.

Tell Tim your wine stories. You can reach him at tprotzman@sbcglobal.net.

Comments? Thoughts? Discuss this article and more at hippoflea.com

06/01/2006 The social lubricant
05/25/2006 Water, water everywhere
05/18/2006 Big fat greek wine tasting
05/11/2006 Drinking to the end
05/04/2006 Schooled in the art of wine
04/27/2006 Make a wish
04/20/2006 Immigrant wines
04/13/2006 A pain in the glass
04/06/2006 Got milk?
03/30/2006 Throw a dart and there's wine
03/23/2006 A life of good wine
03/16/2006 Honoring the dead soldiers
03/09/2006 What once was old i new again
03/02/2006 The taste of sibling rivalry
02/23/2006 Wine travels, doesn’t sing
From grape, to barrel to red-tape jungle

02/16/2006 Love and vine
02/09/2006 A dog-drink-dog world
02/02/2006 The winos' mecca
01/26/2006 Date-nite drinks
01/19/2006 Touring eastern wine country
01/12/2006 Wine, Cheese and Granny Smith
01/05/2006 Resolve to try new wines
10 Wines To Get Lucky With

Adventures in and past the Euro-Cave
A Do-It-Yourself Wine Tasting
A Red For Everything
A Red Wth Your Leftovers?
A Tasty Way To Put Wine To The Test
A Year Of Wine
An Around-The-World Holiday
A wine for every holiday

Basking In The Mondavi Light
Behind One Door Is Great Wine
Beware The Hot Bottle
Brandy and the nude beach
Champagne, The Other White Wine
Cheers And Whines Of The Vine
Days of wine and jelly beans
Deep in the heart of Texas
Drinking for your health
Drinking like a newspaperman

Drinking Whites After Labor Day
Finding A Great Medium-Weight Drink (I)
Finding A Great Medium Weight Drink (II)
Gifts for blood, love or money
Grill and sip, sip and sip. Finding the perfect wine for barbecue
Hey baby, stay cool
How The Corleones Saved Wine

In Praise Of An American Wine
In search of the girl next door
Keeping it in the family
Keeping up appearances
Looking back at the heyday of cheap wine
My Big Fat Greek Wine Tasting
The Best Drinks On A Budget
The Highly Drinkable (Mostly) Merlot
The Long, Strange Journey Of Wine
Old French grape in the New World
Olé! to a week in wine
Opening the Parker book

Our French friends — really
Our Northern Neighbor
Poker faces and wine

Presenting A New England Vodka
Presenting The Wines Of Spring
Rewarding Your Support Staff
Schooled In The Art Of Wine
Shopping for Wine Bargains

Sitting By The Fire And Dreaming Of Wine
Slipping A Little Sideways
Spending the holidays in NYC
Spirit World Tales
Springtime calls for wine and ice cream
Sudden ugly mood swings
The new face of fine wines
The wines of fall
Thinking ahead to the holidays
Time To Stay Frosty
Tipples for turkey day
TV worth drinking
What it means to miss N.O.
What To Drink When You Eat Wild
What's Your Wine Sign
White’s OK after Labor Day
Wine Between The Season
Wine for the NASCAR set
Wine is in at the Inn
Wine’ll make you crazy
Wine Works With Red Sauce

Just because it’s healthy doesn’t make it a bad mixer