One of my cousins, who lives in Wisconsin, posted a photo of her backyard on Sunday with a simple notation: “May 19, 2019.”
The photo showed her lawn and back porch covered with a thin layer of snow.
Which makes it hard to believe that the unofficial start of the grilling season beckons with Memorial Day weekend just a few days away.
For many people, when they throw a nice steak or some hamburger patties or even a nice fish filet on their grill, the first beverage that comes to mind is beer. But as I’ve learned through experimentation… and lots of it… there are numerous wines that work beautifully with grilled fare.
Grilled food even can address one of the more perplexing wine and food-pairing challenges: what to do with an extremely “oaky” wine.
Don’t get me wrong — I love the aromas and flavors that oak barrel aging impart in wine. These aromas and flavors can range from sweet to smoky.
But because those impressions can be so assertive, many wines that see extensive time in new oak can be challenging to pair with food. The oak qualities simply overpower the flavors of the food.
That said, there is one type of “cuisine” that works extremely well with oak-aged wines, particularly reds — barbecue.
The char of the meat and the smoky (and sometimes sweet) flavors of the wine meld like a beautiful voice with a beautiful melody. Think: Julie Andrews singing “The Hills Are Alive” in “The Sound of Music.”
Among the wines that work very well with various types of barbecued fare are Zinfandel, Syrah and Pinot Noir.
And if you happen to be grilling fish, a well-chilled Sauvignon Blanc can be a wonderful pairing partner.
Keep in mind that when you use a sauce with your meat or fish, that sauce likely will become the dominant flavor of the dish. If that’s the case, then you need to think about selecting a wine that complements the flavor of the sauce.
I haven’t checked my cousin’s Facebook page today, but I’ve got to believe that the snow will be gone in virtually all parts of the country by the time this weekend rolls around. So if the weather permits where you live, think about firing up the grill and opening a bottle of wine.
Let’s all raise a glass to a grilling season filled with many wine-pairing memories.