Resveralife Eat Well: Wine to Pair with Summer BBQs
The summer has not come to an end yet; you still have plenty of time to gather your family and friends for a great backyard barbecue. Whether grilling or preparing real, smoked barbecue, an informal gathering for great food, drink and company is welcome. The beverages of choice commonly associated with backyard barbecues are lemonade, soft drinks, iced tea and beer. Wine is often left out of the barbecue festivities because it can be hard to know what wine to pair with what food you’re making. The first rule of wine pairing is to eat and drink what you like. After all, your enjoyment is the most important aspect of having wine with your favorite foods. However, Resveralife does have several general suggestions when it comes time to uncork your wine bottles and fire up the grill.
The Texas staple when it comes to barbecue, beef brisket is definitely a great barbecue food. Often made with a dry rub, brisket begins very fatty but the fat is rendered off of the meat during the smoking process. Because brisket tends to have dry rubs full of spice (and perhaps a hint of sugar) and true brisket is served without sauce, the wine you pair with it needs to be rich and full. A Cabernet Sauvignon is a great pairing for brisket because it features earthy, complex flavors. If you want something that plays perfectly off of the smoky taste of the brisket, consider a Shiraz, which also has earthy notes but also a slight smokiness.
Chicken, because it is a light meat, is often paired with white wines. Perhaps the most common chicken/white wine pairing is Chardonnay. You can easily enjoy a Chardonnay, just be sure that smooth and dry and not overly buttery. If you’re looking to be a bit more adventurous with your wine, consider reds like a Shiraz or Zinfandel. These two wines pair particularly well if your grilled chicken happens to be smothered in a mouth-watering barbecue sauce. Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and medium-dry Rieslings are also popular pairings for grilled chicken.
The staple of many grilling get-togethers, burgers do not necessarily scream “eat me with wine.” More often it’s beer that will accompany a burger, but think outside the box and consider wine. If you are looking to enjoy a red wine with your juicy burger, look to a Zinfandel. Many Zinfandels are full, ripe and have hints of fruits like blackberry. If you would prefer to enjoy a white wine, consider a Sauvignon Blanc, particularly from New Zealand. These wines are full of an herb flavor in combination with tropical fruits, so the wine does not overpower the burger or vice versa.
Typically meat is the star at a barbecue, but if you have vegetarian friends (or just want some tasty veggies), you can load up your grill with vegetables. Again, because vegetables are light, you are going to most likely select a white wine to pair with your veggies. A Chardonnay may not be the first thing you would think of because many have strong notes of oak. However, there are Chardonnays that feature perfect summer fruits like cantaloup, pineapple and lime. If you want to be a bit more exotic with your pairing, try a Gruner Veltliner white. This is comparable to a Sauvignon Blanc but gives a nice change of pace. Veltliner works excellently with grilled vegetables with notes of green pepper and lime.
Your summer barbecue does not have to stock only coolers full of beer. Enhance your barbecue experience by pairing wines with your foods. And remember, the most important rule in pairing wines with foods is to drink what you like!