25 Best Wines for Summer
Aside from an incident in Maine last summer, when I inadvertently tried to turn my hand into a chicken fajita, I’ve had a long and happy relationship with grilling. I attribute this to the fact that grilling doesn’t require a lot of thought—more, obviously, than I’ve given it at times, but not a lot. It’s a forgiving method of cooking.
Similarly, pairing wine with grilled foods is a forgiving task. Most grilled dishes are relatively simple; there’s a main ingredient (usually a protein of some kind), plus the possibility of various seasonings in the form of marinades, rubs and sauces. To choose a wine to pair with something off the grill, consider two things: First, how hearty is the food, and second, what’s the dominant flavor? For lighter foods—white-fleshed fish, vegetables, chicken breasts—pick a lighter wine. For heartier foods—sausages, burgers, steaks—choose a more robust wine. (Both reds and whites can be light-, medium- or full-bodied.) Now think about flavor. For steaks and butterflied legs of lamb—even if they’re marinated beforehand—the dominant flavor will almost always be the meat itself. But with foods like chicken slathered in barbecue sauce or shrimp with a fiery garlic-habanero vinaigrette, the sauce or seasoning is by far the main flavor of the dish. The dominant flavor is a key thing to consider when selecting a wine.
What follows is a selection of great wines, all available for $20 or less, to go with grilled foods of all kinds. But don’t take these wine and food combinations as gospel. They’re really designed more as suggestions or jumping-off points for experimentation. Unlike most everything else that Americans like to drink, such as milk and beer, wine is high in acidity, which refreshes the palate; most reds have fat-cutting tannins, too. In fact, wine may be the most versatile food partner there is, except perhaps for water. But when it comes to a big, juicy, grilled steak, who on earth wants to have it with water?
25 Great Wines to Pair with Grilled Foods
White & Rosé Wines
2010 Estate Argyros Atlantis White ($17)
2010 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc ($18)
2010 Leitz Dragonstone Riesling ($18)
2009 Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen Eroica Riesling ($20)
2010 Honig Sauvignon Blanc ($16)
2010 Commanderie de la Bargemone Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence Rosé ($16)
2009 Chehalem INOX ($17)
2010 Château St-Martin de la Garrigue
Picpoul de Pinet ($17)
2009 Pieropan Soave Classico ($17)
NV Nino Franco Rustico Prosecco ($18)
2009 Sokol Blosser Pinot Gris ($18)
2010 Sigalas Assyrtiko ($18)
NV Tío Pepe Palomino Fino Sherry ($19)
2009 Qupé Marsanne ($20)
2010 St. Supéry Sauvignon Blanc ($20)
2010 Terras Gauda Abadia de San Campio Albariño ($20)
2008 Genesis Syrah ($16)
2009 Layer Cake Cabernet Sauvignon ($16)
2007 Bodega Norton Reserva Malbec ($18)
2007 Masi Campofiorin Veronese ($19)
2008 Quivira Vineyards and Winery Zinfandel ($20)
2009 Selvapiana Chianti Rùfina ($17)
2008 Edmeades Zinfandel ($20)
2009 Hofstätter Joseph Lagrein ($20)
2009 Potel-Aviron Vieilles Vignes Moulin-à-Vent ($20)
Updated June 2012. Selections are from the 2012 F&W Wine Guide.