There are two reactions to Labor Day: "Already?" and "Not soon enough!"
Either way, you're entitled to a lazy weekend before getting into the pre-autumn rush. Whether that means igniting the barbecue one more time or finding the best takeout near home, nothing should be too complicated.
For all that red meat on the grill, from burgers to porterhouse, try zinfandel. California's zinfandels have body and personality to spare. The prices generally are more welcoming than those for comparable-quality and more popular cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir.
The 2009 Michael David 7 Deadly Zins ($16) delivers a shot of pepperiness to go along with the berries and plums; the 2007 Sledgehammer Zinfandel ($15), powerful, of course, with dark fruit, and ripeness rampant. And the 2008 St. Francis Sonoma 'Old Vines' Zinfandel ($22) is vibrant stuff, suggesting black cherry and black pepper, produced by a dependable zinmaker.
On the white side, the citrusy 2010 Matanzas Creek Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc ($19) is a fine foil for shellfish, either raw or cooked, and light seafood preparations. Likewise, the tangy, immediately appealing 2010 Quivira 'Fig Tree' Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc ($18), with its zesty acidity, citrus, and hint of grass.
And for an Italian reverie, there's the citrusy, slightly floral 2009 D'Alessandro Inzolia ($15), a breezy and versatile Sicilian white that's good company for grilled fish. The 2010 Ca'Montini Terre di Valfredda Pinot Grigio ($15), floral and a bit tart, pours well as an aperitif and with that big bowl of pesto.
Follow any of these wines with a well-deserved nap.