Summertime essentials: friends, a hot grill, food, some old-skool hip hop and a perfect wine that brings the afternoon together as it easily blends into a hot evening. Here are some traditional grilling foods with some untraditional pairings – taste combinations that reveal surprising synergy for your summertime grilling.
Be good to your body, your guests and the world by purchasing wild caught; skip the farm raised nonsense. The rich, oily and powerful taste of salmon can be counterbalanced by an Albariño from northern Spain. Albariño comes packing a zesty profile and minerally finish.
No summertime bbq is complete without it and a beautifully chilled Provencal rosé. Bone dry and crisp, it works perfect. A Provencal style isn’t as sweet as domestic rosés. The French versions are minerally with a crisp brightness that’s softer than white wines. The chart below from Wine Folly shows the different types of grapes from which rosés can be made.
Earthy, chewy, messy — a rustic pleasure. Perfect pairing is France’s great rustic wine, Syrah. (America makes some great ones too.) Syrah’s are nice smoky and dark, just a great pairing with ribs. Remember, an overwhelming number of French bottle will not have the grape listed. It’s primarily because France regulates where certain grapes can grow, e.g. if you want a Cabernet from France then you’re looking at Bordeaux. For Syrah you’ll be looking at the Rhone region which includes Crozes-Hermitage.
Shrimp is a bit sweet and delicate. A deft hand will lightly oil and spice it. Perfect pairing: Gewürztraminer.
Juicy and unctuous with surprisingly subtle flavors underneath the grilled veneer. If it’s unadorned with cheese or other big flavors, don’t go gargantuan. A great pairing would be a Sicialian Nero d’Avola – it’s medium-bodied with moderate tannins.
This is where you can really break from summertime tradition. If your bird has some kick to the rub or the sauce, go light red rather than white. A bold California Pinot will do nicely. A more unusual choice is a Beaujolais (region in France that uses the Gamay grape) like red that is best served chilled like a J. Lohr Estates Wildflower Valdiguié.
Tri-tip, Brisket, or Steak:
This is where Old School holds sway. The heavy-hitter of the barbecue world should really be paired with its traditional partner, a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon or big Bordeaux. However, explore beyond Napa; California is blessed with many fantastic wine regions. Explore: Paso Robles for example. If you’re secret sauce tends be on the sweeter side, then go for a Zinfandel from Paso.
Settle your eyebrows back down! Some of us are happy to park ourselves in front of a big ol’ bowl of mashed -up comforting spuds, especially if there’s some great barbecue sauce handy. A cool-climate Californian Sauvignon Blanc works beautifully with the often delicate, pleasantly vinegar-y taste of potato salad.