Pairing Wine With Barbecue — Just in Time for the 4th of July

bbqFill ’er up!

Back in the days of full-service gas stations, that was the typical “order” of drivers to station attendants.

These days, we “fill ’er up” on our own, for the most part, and lots of Americans will be doing just that this week as they embark on extended 4th of July holiday “weekends.”

For those not hitting the road, there’s a good chance they’ll be firing up the grill and doing some backyard barbecuing.

Or as we like to say around our house, “Grill ’er up!”

But unlike a lot of folks, whose go-to beverage when grilling is beer, we’ll be reaching for a few bottles of wine.

Which ones? These three:

  1. Zinfandel. For those who love red wine, there is no better pairing than Zinfandel (red, not “white”) with grilled burgers, a grilled steak and pretty much any grilled red meat, including spicy sausages.

Most Zins are “big” — a.k.a. full bodied — with firm tannins and spicy flavors that perfectly complement the “char” of the grill and tomato-based sauces.

  1. Rosé. This style of wine has always been favored by French wine lovers, but now rosés are red-hot in America as well.

There are two basic ways to pair wine and food: through complementary characteristics, or by balancing traits.

Pairing rosé with barbecue is all about balancing. It’s about taking hot-off-the-grill cuts of meat, typically well spiced and/or sauced, and “cooling them off” just a bit with a glass of chilled-down, refreshing wine.

Most rosés today are being made bone-dry, which makes them perfect for accompanying spicy ribs or well-seasoned steaks or burgers. However, if you’re using a sweet sauce for your grilled goodies, try to find an off-dry rendition of rosé to accompany it. Sweet sauces and completely dry wines rarely work well together.

  1. Sauvignon Blanc. This is a pick that may be surprising to some, but there are specific grilling partners that almost cry out for this variety — especially if you can find ones that have spent at least some time aging in oak barrels.

Oak-aged or not, a well-chilled Sauvignon Blanc pairs quite nicely with grilled chicken, grilled pork and especially with grilled fish. Halibut, in particular, is a wine-and-grilling match made in culinary heaven.

What athletes call “muscle memory” may have you reaching for a beer when you fire up the grill, but there’s no reason you can’t enjoy wine with whatever you’re cooking on the 4th.

Grill ’er up and grab your wine glasses.

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Posted in Food and Wine Pairings/Recipes, Wine Tips
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