Appies & Entrees: A beverage for every season

Penticton Western News reporter Scott Trudeau reminisces about the dog days of summer over a cold beverage.

Beer? Wine? Or spirits?

For me, it depends on the time of year.

As I reminisce about the dog days of an endlessly hot summer that continues to beat down on residents along with the train of visitors to our sunny city, I start feeling thirsty and I’m overcome by a desire to quench my parched throat.

Typically, I reach for a cold, barley beverage. One twist of the cap or flip of the pull tab means I’m seconds from relaxation. There is something magical about the smooth, crisp taste of an icy cold beer on a hot day that transports me to a better place.

I think beer is synonymous with summertime and I believe that happiness is a chilled 12-pack.

I remember many years ago when my dad was working in the heat all afternoon. Thinking that he was probably thirsty, I decided to grab him a bottled beer from the fridge. My dad wasn’t a heavy drinker but he did enjoy a frosty one on a hot day.

While I was at the fridge, I figured I might as well grab one for myself so I brought them outside,  set them on the concrete ledge in our carport and cracked them open. When he took a break, I offered him the beer and grabbed mine too.

I was just about to take a sip when my mom came outside and asked me what I was doing with a beer.

I didn’t understand the effects of beer and that one needed to be of legal drinking age to purchase or consume it. You see, this incident happened when I was a youngster and well before I was old enough to drink.

My mom explained to me beer was for “grown ups” and that I was too young to drink it and that was the end of it.

I’m really not sure why that story has stayed with me over my lifetime but even though I’m now a “grown up” people still chuckle whenever I tell that story.

While beer remains my beverage of choice through July and August, I do manage to enjoy the occasional glass of white or rose wine.

However when September comes, the temperature drops to a more comfortable level and the leaves begin to change colour I find that wine – red wine in particular – begins to entice my taste buds.

For me, wine is softer and more calming compared to beer and I always get a little bit anxious when I open a  bottle of that special something, pour it into the glass and give it that first swirl, sniff and sip.

There are fewer things I find more enjoyable than sitting down with friends and sharing a nice bottle of wine over a charcuterie plate or good meal. When I popped the question to my wife, we opened a bottle of very nice wine that I had tucked away in a safe place to save for a momentous occasion. A bottle of red has never tasted as good as that one.

When fall begins transforming into winter and the holiday season inches closer, red wine continues to be my default weekend drink, unless a ski trip enters the picture. Because we go skiing only a handful of times each season we opt to stay at the hill. And that involves a lot of planning, a lot of food and a variety of alcohol.

I feel it worth mentioning that I’m neither a problem or closet drinker, nor are my friends, but what better way is there to follow up a day on the slopes than with a beer or a spicy Caesar while soaking those tired, lagging muscles in a hot tub?

A couple years ago ski trips took a different turn when I added another drink to the lineup: Whisky sours, the perfect combination of sweet and tart. If you use a good quality bourbon as the base they’re unbeatable, particularly when you’re not in a beer-drinking mood and its too early in the evening for wine.

When winter ends and April-freshness approaches the lush, full-bodied winter reds give way to the lighter-bodied citrus and floral nature of a golden white wine or a rich, red rose.

Then as the mercury begins to rise and tourists return for another year of fun in the sun, I relax with a beer on the patio before the delicate sounds of glasses clinking linger in the air after the cork is popped off a nice bottle of bubbly as friends toast the good times still to come.

Scott Trudeau is the A&E editor for the Western News