If potato salad will be part of a barbecue or picnic, it is a good idea to offer a selection of beverages, from simple water and lemonade to cold beer and, if ribs, burgers, or such will be included, a rustic red wine. But sometimes, as with Potato Salad with Grilled Skirt Steak & Radish Vinaigrette, potato salad is at the heart of a meal. At times like this, the safe–and the most delicious–beverage is something with bubbles. Without getting too technical, here’s why: Our brains perceive carbonated beverages as refreshing but that’s not really what is happening. Yes, a sparkling wine will cleanse your palate of a rich and creamy dressing. But what’s really happening is physical; the bubbles themselves are stimulating your trigeminal nerves, which then send signals to your brain, which in turn translates those signals as “refreshing.”
So, go with your favorite sparkler. If budget is a consideration, try a Spanish Cava or even a Vinho Verde from Portugal, which is just lightly effervescent. I love my close-to-home sparklers, from Iron Horse Vineyards (Classic Vintage Brut!), Woodenhead Winery, Korbel, Gloria Ferrer, and others from Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino counties.