One of my favorite things about summer is the ability to regularly fire up the grill. We like to grill everything from squash to sausage, which we then top with everything from a simple drizzle of olive oil to a rich slather of barbecue sauce. One thing I’ve noticed over the years is when family and friends arrive it seems they have the urge to gravitate to the cooler filled with beer. I hope these easy tips and recommendations will make your next cookout a wine-friendly affair and help you persuade your guests to close the cooler.
Steak and cabernet sauvignon are an ideal match up. Most cuts of steak cry out for a full-bodied, tannic red wine. If you sauce your steak, consider choosing a sauce without a lot of sugar to keep the ideal combination of salty, fat and high-tannin wine flavors.
- 2011 Bridlewood Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, California (about $15 retail)
- 2010 BR Cohn Silver Label Cabernet Sauvignon, California (about $24 retail)
Salmon and a buttery, oaked chardonnay are wine-pairing perfection. Chardonnays, particularly those from California, can overwhelm many dishes with their oaky, fruity, full-bodied style, but the richness of salmon complements these flavors.
- 2011 BV Coastal Chardonnay, California (about $11 retail)
- 2011 Argyle Chardonnay, Oregon (about $23 retail)
Burgers and merlot may seem like an odd pairing,but the two work wonderfully together. Merlots tend to share supple, velvety tannins and round black cherry and plum flavors that enhance the smoky earthiness of a grilled burger.
- 2011 Bogle Vineyards Merlot, California (about $11 retail)
- 2010 Bell Wine Cellars Yountville Merlot, California (about $40 retail)
When it comes to chicken, many red wines will overpower the delicate flavor, but sometimes a red is exactly what you want. Chicken with heavy sauce or cheese requires a full-bodied wine with intensity, making zinfandel an ideal choice. Most zinfandels have ripe luscious, fruity, spice and vanilla aromas, making the match work. If you are grilling a chicken dish lightly seasoned with a little olive oil and herbs, chardonnay is a sound choice.
- 2011 Cline Cellars California Zinfandel, California (about $12 retail)
- 2010 Earthquake Zinfandel, California (about $30 retail)