The longer days of summer are ideal for gathering with friends and family around the patio or deck as the smells and sizzles of fresh grilled meats and vegetables leisurely mix with wi-fi tunes, casual conversation and nature’s subtle calls of the wild.
But barbecuing is reserved solely for beer, right? Au contraire, my fellow vine enthusiasts.
There’s a misperception about wine pairings when it comes to summer grilling and I’m here to set the record straight. Reds, rosés, whites and sparkling whites all have their rightful place on the checkered tablecloths of America. In fact, pairing the right wine can accentuate your backyard culinary experience far more than anything with a pull tab.
Most dishes prepared ala grill focus on accenting the freshest cuts of meats or vegetables with an assortment of seasonings, marinades, rubs and sauces. With this myriad of options available, pairing the appropriate wine may seem overwhelming at first. Don’t despair. Here are a couple suggestions to enhance the flavor profiles of the most popular grill selections.
Grilling vegetables calls for a wine with undertones of citrus flavors and just the right sparkling acidity. Easy-sipping Grüner Veltliner from Austria melds naturally with any vegetable you’d like to stack up on your wooden or metal skewer.
FM Suggestion: Sighardt Donabaum Grüner Veltliner Weingarten, 2014. Wachau Region of Austria. $17.49 750 mL
Grilled seafood, chicken and pork recipes pair up nicely with a wide variety of varietals. The high acidity of Sauvignon Blanc ratchets up the flavor of chicken and milder seafood selections like orange roughy, tilapia and shrimp. For meatier fish selections, like swordfish steaks, tuna or trout, Italian white wines like Nero D’Avola and Algianico offer a fuller body and brighter finish to the palate. The richer flavors of pork and salmon pair up nicely with lighter reds, especially Pinot Noir.
FM Suggestions: La Spinetta Vermentino Toscana IGT 2016 from the Tuscan Coast $17.99
FM Suggestions: Malvira’ Roero Arneis DOCG 2015 from the Roero hills of Piedmont $16.99
FM Suggestions: Rocco Barbera Piemonte DOC 2012 from Asti in Piedmont $11.99
Heartier meats like steaks, barbecued ribs, beef tenderloin, and legs of lamb call for fuller-body reds and robust rosés. Even when marinated prior to grilling or smoking, the dominate flavor almost always is the meat itself. A wine that complements these cuts needs staying power but no need to pull out a winter favorite like Cabernet Sauvignon. There are many other summertime options worth investigating.
FM Suggestions: Scacciadiavoli Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG 2010 $28.99
FM Suggestions: Monte Bernardi Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2014 $27.99
FM Suggestions: Rocca del Principe Taurasi 2009 $34.19
FM Suggestions: La Spinetta Il Rose di Casanova 2016 $16.99
Don’t forget sparkling wines as an option. Hot summer nights call for celebration with these easy-drinking bubblies that complement most any grilled entrée.
So, next time you pull the cover off your favorite grill, keep the aluminum-clad libations in your fridge and pop the cork off one of these suggestions. You’ll be the toast of the evening.