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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Summer Grilling Wines

You've got the grill ready to go. You've got some meat, some BBQ sauce or dry rub. You're looking for the wine to go with your meal. What to have?  Well, there are a zillion choices (okay, maybe only a million) so I won't try to get specific, but only give ideas.


The meats are usually some combination of fish, chicken, pork, and beef. When it comes to the lighter meats the prep can make all the difference. "Naked" chicken with Chardonnay sounds easy enough, but once you start adding herbs, spices, or sauces that changes things, especially if it's tomato-based or spicy hot.

Speaking of spicy, Sauvignon Blanc or a sparkling wine works well. Salmon or pork? You can go Chardonnay or Pinot Noir. Smokey flavors? A dry Gewurztraminer or a not-too-heavy Syrah or better, a Syrah blend. Smokey flavors and Syrah often go together well. If you spice up your chicken or pork with a heavy sauce you can go with Zinfandel. I often have Zin with chicken slathered in a good tomato-based BBQ sauce.

Ribs can be prepared lots of ways from a more delicate and sweet style to really spiced up. Bubblies and lighter whites can work at one end of the scale to Zinfandel at the other. Beef ribs with dry rubs can work with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Just make it a reasonably priced wine  because we're talking about ribs here. Don't break out your $150 Diamond Mountain Cab (unless you're inviting me over for dinner).

For beef on the grill Cabernet is king. For sausages usually Zinfandel or Syrah. See how Syrah keeps coming up? Syrah-based Rhone-style blends are probably the best wines to cover most grilled meals.

If it's a really warm day the big reds don't usually taste as good so maybe Merlot instead of Cab or Pinot instead of Syrah or Zin. Don't be afraid to stick the red wine bottle in the fridge for a few minutes if the bottle feels a bit warm.  Of course, if it's really hot out you might want something like this ...
Image from greatbrewers.com