Wines for Grilling Season

Omg, you guys, it’s finally grilling season! Since Emily’s been providing you with delectable summer recipes for the grill (seriously, how delicious did those ribs look?!) I thought I’d chime in with my recommendations for wines to match all things smoky and charred.

Pairing wines to your grilled items is simple, really. All you have to think about is the flavors of the dish you’re grilling compared to that of the wine you’ll be serving, and whether you plan to serve your dish plain, sauced, or spice-rubbed. Here’s a handy guide:

Simple, Light, Grilled Fare
Think fish or chicken, served simply grilled without any strongly-flavored sauces or spices.

A crisp, somewhat delicate white is your best bet. This could mean anything from Sancerre to New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio to Pinot Gris, dry Riesling to Grüner Veltliner, and beyond! Your choices are nearly endless.  Just make sure to ask your local wine guy or gal for something with good acidity and little to no oak. The simple, tart white wine with be refreshing to the palate on a hot summer day, and its straightforward nature won’t overwhelm simple grilled dishes.

Might I suggest:
Grüner Veltliner, Franz Etz – 2009, Kamptal, Austria
Currently on sale for $12.96 at Astor Wines & Spirits

Richer Preparations of Light Meat and Fish
Okay, so you’re grilling your lobsters…but dipping them in drawn butter. Grilling up a simple chicken breast, but topping it with cheese…or bacon…or both! You get the idea.

Even though you’re starting with a light protein, if there’s butter, cream, cheese, or bacon involved, you’re going to want to up the ante on the richness of your wine. A dollop of oak will add richness and a lush texture to the wine, balancing out heavier ingredients or sauces. Try a white from Rioja, Burgundy, or a classic California Chardonnay.

Might I suggest:
Wyatt Chardonnay – 2010, California
Currently $11.99 at Astor Wines & Spirits

Sweet Rubs or Sauces
Honey-glazed pork, BBQ ribs, Hamburgers with Ketchup, etc.

We often enjoy our grilled items with a touch of sweetness in the form of sticky glazes, brown sugar-based dry rubs, and gobs of ketchup (if you’ve never thought of ketchup as sweet before, check out the ingredients listed on the bottle – high fructose corn syrup is the 3rd ingredient, followed by regular corn syrup.) Dishes that are even slightly sweet can present a wine pairing challenge, making totally dry wines seem even more tart, and obliterating any of their pleasant, fruity qualities. I like to call this the toothpaste/OJ effect. To avoid it, you need a wine with a touch of residual sugar to balance out the sweetness of your dish. Try a Kabinett or Spatlese style Riesling from Germany, or a fruit-forward Australian Shiraz or California Zinfandel.

Might I suggest:
Grant Burge “Benchmark” Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Australia
Currently on sale for $12.96 at Astor Wines & Spirits