Summer = Grilling = Wine!

Beer is usually the drink of choice on hot summer days by the bbq but not for some of us! There are great wine options to cool you off, pair perfectly with that burger or sip in the sunshine.

With Father's Day this weekend, the grilling season is in full swing. Whether you're grilling meats, veggies, or fish there are plenty of options for the perfect wine.

Riesling - A lot of people stray from Riesling because it can be too sweet, however, the sweetness of a chilled Riesling would be nice alongside a grilled sausage, chicken or a savory fish dish. The light, crisp finish brings some refreshment to the grilled meats. There are plenty of rieslings to choose from, most commonly German and New York State producers with the option of dry and semi-dry. I prefer dry rieslings myself, like Dr. Frank Dry Riesling from the Finger Lakes in NY. This wine is well balanced with floral and citrusy notes and ideal with seafood.

Sauvignon Blanc - This varietal is known for it's herbaceousness and light body which makes it great for pairing with seasoned chicken and grilled veggies. Sauvginon Blancs are produced all over the world but the most popular are Sancerre's, New Zealand and South Africa. Tons of bargain wines to be found in South Africa and New Zealand. These regions produce light Sauvignon Blancs that display a green and floral nose with a refreshing palate, just perfect for the summertime. Price ranges from $8 and up. Who doesn't appreciate that?

Chardonnay - More of a full-bodied wine than the other whites, Chardonnay is always a good wine to pair with food. Chardonnay can stand up to those grilled fish entrees and can you imagine how well the buttery corn on the cob would taste? There are plenty of options for a buttery California Chardonnay. Depending on your price point, I'd recommend Rombauer ($35/bottle). This wine has a lot of fresh fruit aromas and the vanilla adds depth of flavor. Another popular option is the Sonoma Coast Chardonnay from La Crema. It's readily available and similar to the Rombauer style.

Pinot Noir - Lightest of the reds, Pinot Noir is always a crowd pleaser and one of the best food wines. It's very diverse and can easily pair with numerous dishes. This is your best bet if you are invited to a cookout but not sure of the menu. There are a lot of popular Pinot regions but my favorite, especially for grilling, is Oregon. Oregon Pinot is very earthy and can compliment a grilled meat or fish very well. A good go-to Oregon Pinot without the Oregon price is Erath. Bright and vibrant, Erath has a smooth, silky finish and would be divine with grilled seafood.

Cabernet Sauvignon - Bigger and bolder than Pinot but yet still a soft finish, Cabernet Sauvignon is a great burger wine. This varietal is great with fattier, grilled meats because of the tannin structure.Top your burger with strong cheese and this varietal will shine even more! Chilean wines are up and coming so I recommend the Estampa Cabernet Sauvignon. It's at a great price point ($12) and showcases dark fruit with a rather large nose.

Syrah/Shiraz - Syrah produces a large, flavorful, tannic wine that will pair with any grilled red meats. Like Cabernet, the tannins help break down the tougher meats. When I think Syrah/Shiraz, there's none other than Mollydooker from Australia. As I wrote about last year, the team at Mollydooker is passionate about wine yet very down to earth. The Boxer is one of my go-to Shiraz's and retails for around $25. Very fruit forward with hints of spice make it a great pairing with meats right off the grill.

The options are unlimited when it comes to grilling wines. Maybe it's because I love to grill! Regardless, get out there this summer and enjoy fresh food with perfectly paired wines.


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