The Grilling Wines of Summer
First, there is indeed a grilling wine—the refreshing sipper you’re having when grilling up burgs, ribs, and/or steaks. There’s no way to survive otherwise! The other grilling wine in hot haven is the red, white, or rosé that’s wonderfully pairing with your meal.
And there are some really good coupling combination moves utilizing your wine bar to impress your bosses and enlighten your neighbors. Though maybe, some in this visiting entourage may not have quite the enthusiasm for the array of wine that you do. Beer and cocktails certainly fit the bill and are most thirst-quenching and revitalizing as any wine can be. But there’s no fight here—geez! Enjoy and hydrate well in the desert.
As with the other beverages, chill them up! Sparkling wines can take it cold and very cold. The Brits start chilling their bubbly at around 37°! And we can do that! But if you’re too scared, leave it outside in the heat for half a second. Also your sweet white wine, such as Sauternes, Tokaj, and the sweet German Rieslings can take it that cold too. (Of course you’re simply sipping or toasting with these sweets—having a full glass of that stuff in110+ temps sounds rough.
Nothing is more enjoyable than drinking wine at the proper temperature. Remember, we’re here in the desert and any discussion of “room temperature” is out the door! Seemingly every wine publication around town provides a chart on what specifically each type of wine is to be chilled and served at, problem here, who’s taking the temp of the glasses they’re pouring!
Your average kitchen fridge operates at 36 or so degrees. We can all guesstimate how cold our wine is for serving: the general “feeling” rule is the ever popular rosés and most dry white wines revel at 45 to 50 degrees; your light body reds, such as Beaujolais and light-bodied Pinot Noirs are perfect from 50 to 55 degrees.
As to medium to full-bodied reds, they need to be in the fridge at least a half hour before enjoying. In our summertime heat, the wine in the glass warms quickly.
So, what is the classic grilling/barbecue beverage? Of course ice cold beer! It acts as a palate cleanser and it scrapes out the meals richness and fat. So—find a wine that does the same: dry rosés are always cleansing. There’s no question that rosés add lift and ‘spirit’ to casual outdoor gatherings. Served brisk and cool, these wines have a bit more acidity than white wines to battle the grilled flavors of the food.
One of the most reasonably priced Proseccos and dry sparkling Rosés, available at most supermarkets, come from the Italian producer Ruffino. Both wines are tasty, cleansing and complex enough to enjoy throughout a meal of light grilled foods. Excellent buys at around $10.
Sauvignon Blanc is great with grilled vegetables and shrimp, and is the best wine with tomatoes. Off-dry (slightly sweet) Rieslings and Gewurztraminers should pair nicely with spicier and sweeter barbecue flavors. Remember—if you’re into preparing really hot & spicy meals, such as those charred ribs slathered with sticky sweet habanero sauce, the Riesling/Gervurtz can really tame the heat for those timid guests.
My go to summer Sauv Blancs, which we talked about last year, are the Nobilo twins: The New Zealand style of wine that is particularly pungent and zesty with pronounced gooseberry, grapefruit fruit and chili-pepper/tomato leaf nuances.
Nobilo [NOB-il-loe] Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($13) and Nobilo Icon Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($22) are the purest expression of what New Zealand’s clean, green land has to offer with screw-cap tops and fresh fruit-forward flavors, Nobilo is the ideal portable wine that serves as a versatile pairing for summertime staples.
The Nobilo Icon is a world class wine: a stylish Sauv blanc that deserves a place on the summer table; rich, complex and with a striking bouquet of citrus and wet stone, with delicate floral notes. The palate displays fresh and lively flavors of lemon and white stone fruit, with juicy acidity, and minerality on the finish.”
Chardonnays have their place on the summer table as well. Especially if you’re grilling fattier fish, like tuna, trout, or rockfish. Chardonnay’s also the best pick for turkey and veggie burgers, and sometimes regular hamburgers that have grilled mushrooms.
When it comes to grilled and BBQ meats, a lot turns on the kind of protein and manner of cooking: simple grilling to the full fanfare of marinades, sauces, and smoke. Generally with an easy lemon, pepper and garlic grilled chicken, America’ favorite varietal—yes, a Chard is an easy choice.
Recently a duo of new Chardonnays came my way from the Notable Wine Co. The two wines are distinct interpretations with front labels featuring musical flavor notes as visual tasting cues to help guide wine drinkers to their ideal bottle (and please do read the labels carefully). The new 2016 Fruity & Crisp Australia Chardonnay is fruit forward and offers tasting notes of fresh citrus, melon and peach, while Notable’s 2015 Oaky & Buttery California Chardonnay is a rich, full-bodied Chardonnay with prominent butter, oak and vanilla flavors.
Apparently, I wasn’t wearing my reading glasses when opening the chilled bottle, for I thought I had uncorked the Fruit & Crisp. Upon tasting the Oaky & Buttery, I was stunned on how rich the wine was! Great flavors if one is expecting the full-on buttery Chard profile—but I was in disbelief anticipating a crisp and lean one. (I even sliced a sliver of bell pepper and tossed into the glass to tame the wine—which works by the way!)
Of course I got my bearings straight later and all was well. And, with spectacles either on or off, both Notable Chardonnays will go wonderfully with your grilled chicken. A great buy at under $12 a bottle.
Next week continues with the grilling wines of summer. Cheers!