Grilling is more than a culinary activity. It brings people together and facilitates the celebration of important occasions like holidays and birthdays. Just as grilled food can enhance a celebration, the right wine can elevate food and add a new dimension of depth to the experience. Here are nine pairings to make your next gathering around the grill even more special.
Wings – Prosecco
Chicken wings come with a wide array of sauces, many of which feature flavors spicy, sweet, or both. Fortunately, spicy and sweet foods both pair well with fruity wines that have a touch of sweetness. Prosecco, a sparkling wine from Italy, makes for a great choice because it’s very crisp and has a touch of sweetness. It cuts the heat of spicy wings and refreshes in hot weather.
Bass – Sauvignon Blanc
Grilled bass features a combination of hearty, smoky, grilled flavors with delicate seafood and fresh tasting garnishes like citrus and herbs. The dry, crisp, white wine, Sauvignon Blanc, will enhance the taste of the fish without covering it and will also complement fruits, herbs, and vegetables used in the preparation and seasoning.
Shrimp – Provence Rosé
One approach to wine pairing emphasizes the matching of wines to dishes from the same place of origin. The region of Provence in the South of France sits on the Mediterranean coast and is a source for both wine and amazing shrimp dishes. Rosé from Provence is dry and light and usually contains a blend of red grapes such as Grenache, Syrah, and Cinsault. It matches the flavor of grilled shrimp, as well as the color, making for a striking combination.
Bratwurst – Dry Riesling
German sausage and wine go hand in hand. The salty, fatty, goodness of brats is balanced by the clean, lean brightness of the wine. Riesling also has enough acidity to stand up to sauerkraut, the nearly inevitable side item with brats. Try to find a dry Riesling, which is very fashionable at the moment in Germany – delicious examples can be found at a good price.
Corn – California Chardonnay
Whenever a dish is described as “buttery,” consider pairing with Chardonnay. In California, Chardonnay often goes through a process called “malolactic fermentation,” which transforms the tart, fruity acid in the wine to soft, buttery lactic acid. The flavors of the corn, butter, and wine will fuse together into a fantastic whole.
Portobellos – Red Burgundy
Grilled portobello mushrooms aren’t just for vegetarians. When paired with the right wine, they will tempt anyone who loves grilled food. Red Burgundy has an earthy flavor that matches the taste of the mushrooms and a light body with a silky texture that won’t overwhelm the dish.
Hot Dogs – Côtes du Rhône
Wines from the Côtes du Rhône appellation can originate anywhere in the Rhône Valley and normally feature Grenache as the dominant grape in their blend. Côtes du Rhône is food wine with acidity enough for condiments like ketchup and relish, as well as enough flavor to balance spicy mustard or chili. You would be hard pressed to find a better pairing for hot dogs.
Burgers – McLaren Vale Shiraz
Americans may love our grills, but we’re not the only ones. Australians cook out so often that it’s no wonder so many of their wines are meant to suit grilled foods. Why not pair the iconic American burger with a Shiraz from the McLaren Vale in Australia? Shiraz is spicy and full-bodied, with deep fruit flavors and a dark color. There is also a smoky character in the wine that will work beautifully with the meat.
Steak – Saint-Émilion
Arguably the most regal of grilled foods, steak is a magical expression of simplicity. Cabernet Sauvignon is the classic pairing with steak, but why not add a twist by looking to the region where Cabernet first became famous? Red Bordeaux is usually made from a blend of Cabernet and Merlot, with the possible addition of Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. Saint-Émilion is a sub-region where Merlot is normally dominant in the blend and produces wines of incredible complexity and structural balance. Keep a bottle on hand for the next time you grill up a steak, and you won’t be sorry.