Best Wines for Weekend Grilling

Some bold wine choices to match the boldly flavored food coming off the grill this summer
Staff Writer
Best Wines for Weekend Grilling


Whether you use charcoal, wood, electric, propane — or even dig a hole in your backyard to make an old-fashioned wood-fired grill — warm weather weekends are a time for us to roast, toast, char, and put grill marks on our food.

When it comes to knowing what wine to drink, here are some traditional, edgy, and off-the-wall pairing suggestions. But remember — in the end, wine and food pairing is a matter of personal preference, so try your wines in advance before you put them on the table. 


The dish: Marinated portobellos
Traditional: An earthy, somewhat spicy, lighter red wine such as a Côtes du Rhône.
Edgier: A Cabernet Franc from the East Coast with pencil-lead notes.
More off-the-wall: A Tannat from Uruguay, such as Pueblo del Sol, with its blend of mellow fruit and spicy bitters finish.


The dish: Chicken with tangy BBQ sauce
Traditional: Merlot-based rosé from California's Monterey County.
Edgier: Search out a citrus-accented rosé made from Sangiovese grapes, perhaps one from Emilia-Romagna.
More off-the-wall: And while we're in Emilia-Romagna, let's go really radical with a sparkling Lambrusco, the fruity-but-fresh every-night wine in many homes in the region.


The dish: Strip steak
Traditional: Nothing goes better with steak than a Bordeaux red, so try a less-expensive but sturdy one labelel Bordeaux Superieur or Côtes de Bordeaux.
Edgier: Surprisingly, Barbera d'Asti is seldom mentioned as a steak wine, but it makes an excellent one.
More off-the-wall: A sturdy, lightly spicy Kadarka from the south of Hungary.

The dish: Salmon and tuna steaks
Traditional: Try an oaky Napa Valley Chardonnay if you are an only-white-wine-with-fish drinker.
Edgier: Lighter Pinot Noirs have become quite a popular choice to serve with heavier fish, but have you tried one of the medium-bodied Pinots from the middle Loire area around Sancerre?
More off-the-wall: A Pinotage from South Africa, the cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault with good acidity to cut the fattiness of the fish — just be sure to get a recommendation from your wine merchant as the quality varies widely.


The dish: White fish and shellfish
Traditional: I love Muscadet from the lower Loire Valley with shellfish, and it goes equally well with a grilled sole or similar fish.
Edgier: A crisp, but fruity Riesling from Australia's Clare Valley such as Grosset or Pikes — its slate minerality will balance the char.
More off-the-wall: A lightly herbal white Vermouth on the rocks (a Virgin Martini).


The dish: Hot dogs and Italian sausages
Traditional: A Merlot from Monterey County with its round fruitiness
Edgier: A blend of Rhône-style grapes from Paso Robles.
More off-the-wall: A tangy, spicy red from the south of France, such as Chapoutier Bila-Haut Côtes de Roussillon Villages.


The dish: Vegetables in oil
Traditional: A Sauvignon Blanc from Sonoma County, which can match a range of veggies with its combination of fruit and acidity.
Edgier pairing: A lovely, medium-dry sparkling Vouvray made from the lightly vegetal Chenin Blanc.
More off-the-wall: A light red from Slovenia, such as the Pullus Modri Pinot, with its Beaujolais-like fruit-and-herbs flavors.

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