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2016-07-01 / Wine Notes

BBQ Wines Finish the Feast

Robert D. Richards, CSW


With summer in high gear, the sizzle of the grill is a friendly and welcome sound. Although we may associate barbecues with cracking open an ice-cold beer, the flavors arising from the open flames provide a chance for pairing a wide array of grape varietals to the tastes of summer.

When pairing wines, always think texture, aroma and flavor. Steaks and their accompanying marinades and sauces call out for a bold red. Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec would be a good bet. Even a younger wine with pronounced tannins (the “catch” you feel in the back of your throat, similar to drinking a strong tea) will work because the salt used in seasoning the meat will soften the tannins and round out the feel.

Grilled fish and vegetables need a lighter touch. Scallops have a natural sweetness that pairs nicely with an off-dry Riesling. That same wine would be a good pick for grilled vegetables, particularly if your garden medley includes onions, which can caramelize when in contact with the grill’s heat. Grüner Veltliner, the peppery white wine from Austria, also would work well, with the added benefit of standing up to the seasoning often used on vegetables.

If you are grilling salmon, you have even more of a choice. The intense essence of the fish, along with the flavors imparted through grilling, allow for a lighter red, such as a Pinot Noir. If you favor a white wine in the summer, then Pinot Gris is a good choice. Oregon produces both varietals in fine form.

If a burger is more your style, then think about the condiments you are piling on top of it. The peppery hints that are found in Zinfandel make it a classic pairing with burgers, but Cabernet or a California Syrah work as well. And if you’re grilling the all-American hot dog, by all means, pop open that beer. Here are some selections for your next barbecue adventure. •SCM

Adelsheim Pinot Gris Willamette Valley 2014
(#42797, $17.99)
This crisp white shows subtle hints of apple and pear. Made from 100% Pinot Gris grapes, this Oregon offering has a nice clean finish.

Rosenblum Cellars Zinfandel Harris Kratka 2010
(#33315, $19.99)
A well-developed Zin with lots of jam, plum and cherry aromas, this selection from Sonoma’s Alexander Valley shows the classic peppery notes for which Zins are known, particularly on the finish.

Poet’s Leap Riesling Columbia Valley 2012
(#46699, $19.99)
Inspired by German tradition and using German yeasts, this popular Washington wine boasts notes of grapefruit and other citrus with some hints of peach and apricot.

Gobelsburg Gruner Veltliner Schlosskellerei Gobelsburger 2014
(#47106, $16.99)
The minerals of the “Old World” are ever present in this Austrian white from the Kamptal region. It has hints of fruit and some subtle floral notes. If you consider yourself a hipster, you might just refer to this wine as GrüVe.

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