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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend Wines

It's a three-day weekend! This is traditionally the time to fire up the grill and invite the neighbors and family. It is about grilled meats like steaks, ribs, and burgers. So what about the wines? Glad you asked. There are many choices because of different circumstances,  the food prep, and even the weather all come into play.

Pre-dinner

What do you sip on before or while you're grilling? On a warm day I'd suggest a refreshing Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Noir. Why different wines than your dinner wine? A chilled higher-acid wine like Sauv Blanc hits the spot where a heavy red doesn't.

For me it'll be a nice cold Sierra Nevada Pale Ale or Lagunitas IPA. Just sayin'.

Dinner wine

Some of the best matches are usually Rhone-style blends, Zinfandel, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Again, the heaviest of the reds like Cab and Syrah maybe aren't the best choices on a hot day.

The Rhone-styles, these are blends of grapes like Syrah, Grenache, and others, are good all-around choices. Zinfandel is great with anything a little smoky or spicy--I'm thinking of ribs here.

Some wine choices

Here are a few wines that aren't too expensive, are relatively easy to find, and from Sonoma County:

Hanna Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc, $19. For your warm-up wine. Consistently one of the best SBs around.

Chateau St. Jean Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, $21. Another good warm-up wine or to have with grilled pork or chicken.

Dry Creek Vineyards Heritage Zinfandel, $16. This wine is made to go with a hearty meal. One of the better deals ever on a table wine.

Pedroncelli Dry Creek Zinfandel, $18. From one of my favorite producers of bang-for the-buck wines.

Seghesio Sonoma County Zinfandel, $24. A littler higher alcohol level so have it with anything slathered in a sweet BBQ sauce.

Rodney Strong Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon, $20. Good Cab, good price. They have an Alexander Valley Cab for a few bucks more.

Beer styles

It's the kick-off to the summer season so we should talk about beer and barbecue, too.

The farmhouse/Saison styles of beer work on a summer day as they're easy-drinking and refreshing. Darker beers with red meats, such as black IPAs, brown ales, or smoked porters. Ambers work with pork. IPAs made on the more floral side can work with spicy BBQ sauces. With chicken and seafood use summer lagers. Just watch out for too hoppy or too high of alcohol levels as those don't usually pair with food as well.

To all my friends in hospitality jobs