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Ale and zinfandels for the party

Start those fireworks.

To go with Fourth of July festivities, take an all-American approach to beverages.

Anchor Steam Brewing Co.'s terrific Liberty Ale was first made in 1975 to celebrate Paul Revere's ride. It has been delivering essential news since then.

This is a creamy, hoppy, straw-hued ale from the outstanding San Francisco brewer. You'll detect a hint of citrus and find plenty of refreshment. A six-pack of Liberty Ale is about $12.

From Connecticut comes Cottrell Old Yankee Ale, a very refreshing amber number that goes easily with burgers, hot dogs, almost anything, and is good on its own. A six-pack of the medium-bodied ale is about $9.

If red meat is on the barbecue and you want a hearty red, zinfandel stands out.

St. Francis Winery & Vineyards has tasty trio of zins. The 2007 St. Francis Sonoma County Old Vines Zinfandel ($20) is heady with black cherry and toasty oak; the 2006 St. Francis Pagani Vineyard Old Vines Zinfandel ($35), with a spicy, peppery, layered style and fine balance.

The 2007 Wild Oak Old Vines Sonoma County Zinfandel ($35), from St. Francis, is like a basket of raspberries, concentrated and delightful, with a hint of oak.

Raspberry and plum highlight the bright 2007 Girard Napa Valley Old Vine Zinfandel ($25), a medium-bodied, food-friendly winner. And the ripe 2007 Sbragia Gino's Vineyard Dry Creek Zinfandel ($28) features cherry and cassis notes, with traces of spice, plus a long finish.


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