Memorial Day has come and gone in D.C., so that can only mean two things: Friday backups on the Bay Bridge and backyard barbecues. As the weather warms up, I know many of us will be doing a lot more outdoor grilling this season.
There is something about cooking food outside on the grill that just seems to make everything taste better. I love grilling a wide variety of foods, including everything from fresh fish, chicken and vegetables to traditional grill-fare of burgers and New York strip steaks.
I have even attempted — with remarkable success — to grill peaches and nectarines for dessert — just add vanilla ice cream!
And finding the right wine to saddle up alongside the plethora of grilled goodies is half the fun.
It gives me a chance to explore new combinations, to see what works with the various marinades and sauces that I use when grilling.
Traditionally, when I am cooking up fish and poultry, I have a tendency to look for white wines that feature abundant acidity.
But if I decide to spice up the flavor profile or throw shellfish on the barbie, then I try to find white wines that have just a touch of residual sugar to help bring all of the flavors into focus.
When red meat is on the menu, I reach for bolder red wines that tend to be more fruit-forward on the palate and possess noticeable tannins that can help cut through the fat.
Here are several summer sippers to serve up with your favorite grilled foods.
I love to start of my evening of grilling with a cold glass of Rosé in my hand. There’s just something refreshing about the crisp acidity and fresh, bright flavors.
The 2019 Hess Select Rosé from California is perfect to chill out with. The Hess winemaking team finds vineyard sites that produce grapes with approachable acids and balanced fruit notes.
The result is a wine that features luscious strawberry and red currant aromas, leading into clean and bright flavors of wild strawberry and pomegranate in the mouth.
Hints of tangy citrus on the finish add a refreshing touch. Oh, and it goes great with fruit, cheeses and shrimp on the barbie. $12
My wife prefers salmon to steak, so I always make sure that I have plenty of Pinot Noir on hand. I tend to like Pinot Noir wines with more delicate flavors to compliment the rich flavors of the fish.
The 2017 Merry Edward Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley in Sonoma, California displays aromas of red currant and Asian spices and elegant flavors of strawberry, cherry and red plum that float on the tongue with finesse and charm.
Notes of cranberry play out on the earthy finish where soft-grained tannins provide a smooth end. It is a perfect with cedar plank salmon. $50
In our house, a grilled hamburger has been elevated to an art form. We make every accoutrement a burger could want, so we tend to go a little overboard with the wine we like to have with it.
This year, it is the 2017 Ridge Three Valleys Zinfandel from Sonoma County, California that has earned pairing rights!
This bright red wine features aromas of jammy dark fruit and spice on a fragrant bouquet. Generous flavors of blackberry, plum, red cherry and black pepper are front and center in the mouth.
Sweet tannins provide enough grip to cut through the fat while allowing the subtle notes of toasty oak to shine on the luscious finish.
In addition to burgers, I think this would also make a tempting choice to pair with a dense chocolate tort. $25
If you plan on throwing a prime piece of meat on the grill, then you’re going to want a wine to match.
The 2016 Mi Sueno (Spanish for ‘My Dream’) Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon has the gravitas to stand up to anything from New York Strip to Lamb Loin.
Enticing aromas of dark plum, boysenberry, and wet earth waft up from the glass.
On the palate, it features intense flavors of black currant, cherries, dark plums and black licorice liqueur that washes over the front of the tongue.
A touch of mocha glides in on the powerful and sleek finish. $75
A helpful hint for summertime white wine enjoyment:
If you’re planning on serving your chilled white wine outside, consider buying a spare bottle, opening it up a few hours before guests arrive and pouring it into a clean plastic ice cube tray.
Place the tray in the freezer then use the frozen wine-cubes to keep your guest’s wines chilled to the perfect temperature throughout the day and evening!
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