Best Wines for Weekend Grilling

Some bold wine choices to match the boldly flavored food coming off the grill this summer

Whether you use charcoal, wood, electric, propane — or even dig a hole in your back yard to make an old-fashioned wood-fired grill — Memorial Day weekend is 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.