Summer is the most hedonistic season! Consider basking on the beach, frolicking at a music festival, gnawing on some grilled food with friends, or, of course, sipping a fine wine. Who can resist these simple pleasures?
The joy of sharing food and wine with friends and family is hard to beat, so let’s have a look at some wine ideas to take to those boisterous backyard barbeques.
The classic example to pair with grilled steak is Cabernet Sauvignon.
The full, rich flavours of both are an obvious match. The proteins in the meat interact with the tannins in the wine to soften them. They don’t overpower each other, as they are of similar weight.
This is not to say that you must always pair a Cab. with red meat. Zinfandel would go nicely with game and smoky dishes, and Australian Shiraz with lamb and other hearty foods. Chianti would be nice when tomatoes are involved, and a Spanish Rioja is a good fit with most grilled dishes.
Get to know what your favourite pairings are by trying different combinations. Lately I’m enjoying the many red Côtes du Rhône of southern France that pair well with so many barbecued foods.
Many of these are GSMs. The fruitiness of the Grenache grape, along with the full-bodied spiciness of the Syrah, and rusticity of Mourvèdre combine to give us a perfect wine to be enjoyed with red meats, pork, grilled marinated vegetables and char-marked chicken.
Consider the marinades and sauces when choosing a wine. Grilling always adds more flavour and intensity to the foods we eat. Try the Saint Cosme Côtes du Rhône.
Pinot Noir from Washington, or an oaked Chardonnay from California would be lovely with salmon on the grill or cedar plank. Yum! How about the Bonterra organic Chardonnay?
VQA Merlot from Canada, like Cedar Creek or Peller Family Estate, or an Argentinian Malbec like Catena or Trapiche would pair well with your pork chops or ribs. They have a slight sweetness and plumy nature that can stand up to rich barbecue sauces.
Sauvignon Blanc is such a versatile wine. It is a full-flavoured white that will not be over-powered by grilled foods, yet has a fresh crispness that is a stunning match with fish and seafood or chicken dishes. I love the Sancerre from the Loire Valley in France for its minerality. Oysters on the half-shell anyone?
If grilling spicy prawns, perhaps a Gewürztraminer or Riesling is the best choice. Again, Canada has many great offerings. Gewurztraminer’s natural spiciness and Riesling’s tangy acidity, and both of their fruitiness will counter-balance the heat and spice. These also do well beside your brats (the sausage variety of course). Are you getting hungry yet?
I think the main point to remember when buying wine is that it is truly a personal choice; there are no hard and fast rules. Only you know what makes you happy, but you can have a lot of fun experimenting. Remember, the best pairing is the company you’re noshing with!
– Nanci Suuban