It's here... triple digits with no breeze in sight, aka the summer doldrums. Add humidity and it's like you are a castaway on a tropical ocean, without the ocean view.
Remember Jack Sparrow in the movie At World's End staggering around the deck of the Black Pearl which happens to be beached on an endless desert of sand? Doesn't it make you thirsty just thinking about that scene?
The question is what libation to choose. Water would be an excellent choice! Even with So Cali experiencing an extreme drought in addition to the scorching heat, there is still ready access to aqua fria.
With that base covered, let's move on to the fun side of summer!
When the mercury hits the high nineties and continues to inch upward another ten degrees, it's time to cool off. Putting your head in the freezer is a temporary fix... not to mention you look pretty silly with your butt hanging out of the double wide.
Why not put opening the freezer to good use? Grab a tray of pre-prepared frozen wine cubes and get this party started!
Contrary to urban myth, wine does indeed freeze. While “hard alcohol” remains a lusciously cold liquid – that bottle of Grey Goose stashed on the top shelf – wine generally doesn't exceed 18% alcohol and can freeze in a sturdy plastic ice cube tray.
For best results, the Wine Spectator recommends a temperature of 15-20 degrees. That said, anyone who has frozen wine cubes knows it works well at a mere 27 degrees. The trick is to put the tray on the coldest shelf in your freezer. Another WS tip advises that because wine expands, don't fill your cubes to the brim. Let them swell a bit!
Get creative in using wine cubes. Try as a chiller for your favorite wine that's usually served at room temperature. Instead of diluting with ice cubes, you now have a refreshingly cool glass of wine. Use to keep barbecue sauce cool or hidden at the bottom of your summer slaw. As the cubes melt there's added liquid however barbecue sauce is supposed to disappear quickly and a colander lined with cheesecloth easily remedies the latter issue.
Another great use is substituting for ice in wine spritzers and coolers.
The sky is the limit here, and the pairings are endless. Plan a summer backyard party and use the fresh summer produce available to enhance your spread. To get you started here's a mouth-watering menu.
Saucy Mango Dinosaur Bones
* NOTE: When purchasing beef ribs, price includes bone weight which can be more than half of the total weight. Your butcher can advise as to quantity for your party. This recipe serves 6-8 people, simply do the math for every 2 racks on the marinade and barbecue sauce.
Mix all ingredients except ribs together in a huge crab pot with 3 quarts of water. Cover crab pot and move to range top, bringing almost to a boil. Add ribs and reduce to ¾ medium heat, checking every hour. The key is to keep liquid level no lower than the ribs for maximum consistency. Depending on the ribs themselves – and the number of racks in your pot – this may take from a few hours to an entire day.
The ribs are done when fat has rendered, and the meat is almost falling off the bone. Remove from heat and carefully transfer each rib onto a large platter or directly onto a preheated grill. The meat is already cooked through so the point is to give a nice crispy sear on each side of meat. When finished, transfer to a platter and let rest at least 5 minutes to seal in the juices.
Saucy Mango BBQ
Peel mangoes and cut into ¼ inch cubes. Mix all ingredients, folding the mango, garlic and jalapenos in last. The only thing left to do is to slather on those scrumptious ribs!
In the meantime, roast some potatoes with skins still on. Serve with bacon pieces sauteed in garlic, real butter and a dash of sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
Innovative vegetable and fruit platters with kicked up dressings are fresh and easy. Use basic ranch for the veggies, adding finely minced fresh garlic and a dash of Worcestershire Sauce. For fruit, use plain yogurt with finely minced mango and if you want to spice it up, a bit of super fine minced jalapeno.
Add ears of corn grilled to perfection while still in the husk. Top with homemade mango garlic butter: softened butter in a food processor with chopped garlic and a bit of mango, chill slightly in an earthenware crock.
As a finale, mix up this tasty wine cooler: freeze tropical Craveyon Viognier into wine cubes. Use 3 parts Viognier to 1 part mango juice and 2 parts plain soda (give or take with all ingredients!) Spears of fresh mango jazz up the effect and using long cocktail spears makes them easier to fish out.
No worries. Undoubtedly you know someone who does. Get on social media, text your friends, beg and cajole. Tell them you have the perfect solution for the summer doldrums. Or just stay inside in air conditioned bliss.
Either way, a Craveyon Wine Club membership is the place to start. From luscious, slightly sweet Black Muscat to cherry infused Counoise, there are are many intriguing possibilities to add to your end of summer fun. Grab a few bottles to start experimenting on your own signature red or white wine cocktail, crank up the music and soon you'll have the perfect cure for the summertime blues.