Wow! We finally had a wonderfully sunny holiday weekend! Seafood, hot dogs, and burgers off the grill just taste better. Standing in the sun next to a burning, blackened monument to summer, one may project an image of people gathered round with their Chinet plates at the ready and open coolers full of ice, beer and pop. Though you all know I love a good summertime cocktail or beer, there are so many wines that pair perfectly with summertime grilling. In general, I like to recommend red Zinfandel for BBQ cuisine, but I have tried and fallen for so many wines from far-off places that I am going to recommend all wines from abroad this year. From light, refreshing whites to an earthy, complex Spanish, here are my picks for food off the grill.
Amado Sur Torrontes Blend Mendoza, Argentina 2013
Good Torrontes are hard to find. Many are unbalanced and end up tasting like your grandmother’s rosette-shaped soaps. Perhaps that’s why my expectations were low when I tasted the Amado Sur from Trivento. A blend of 80% Torrontes, 10% Viognier, and 10% Chardonnay, the Viognier brings out the peachy, citrus notes of Torrontes while the Chardonnay adds structure and acidity. Bright and aromatic, with a crisp, clean finish, it’s good paired with grilled fruits, veggies or shell fish.
Abbazia di Novacella Stiftskellerei Neustift Pinot Grigio Alto Adige, Italy 2013
Let’s be honest. There’s a lot of boring Pinot Grigio out there. This is the opposite. Stunningly complex with notes of white peach, honey dew melon, white blossom and a zesty, long finish, it is heavenly (and made by monks). Pair this with grilled figs, asparagus, sea bass or Mediterranean fare.
Pannonica Zweigelt Blaufrankisch Pinot Noir Red Blend Austria 2010
The minute I nosed this wine, I thought, Yup, definitely going to write this up for BBQ! A new venture for the kings of Gruner Veltliner, The Hoepler Family, this wine is juicy, with red and black fruits (notably cherry and plum) and tannins that are light and dusty. Terrific with a slight chill, it’s great paired with meaty fishes, spicy barbeque chicken or grilled veggies.
La Tribu Spanish Red Valencia, Spain 2010 – *Jennifer’s Pick!
On Tuesdays, we taste with many distributors. As the reps pour from right to left, starting with me normally, I am usually the first to smell and taste the wine, all the while observing Simone’s and Nikki’s first reactions. To be quite honest, it is one of my favorite parts of my job. When I first smelled this wine in particular, the nose was overtly of barnyard! The reaction in the cellar was of surprise and immediate giggles. A couple of swirls in the glass and the marde smell dissipated, letting bright berry flavors through. Again observing as I sip, swish and spit, my respectable, responsible spit almost becomes a spit take when Simone’s eyes light up and she exclaims a resounding, “Mmmmmm!” Laughter erupts again, and we all agree this is a very special, delicious wine! Grilled meats with unisonous flair are best for this berry-driven blend of Garnacha, Monastrell, and Syrah.
Chores can wait. I implore you to take advantage of every sunny day this year. Sit in the sun, read a magazine, and actually make the recipes that are inside! As you flip through this month’s Bon Appetit or Martha Stewart Living, I hope you run across some savory grilling recipe and think, Ooo! This would go great with that wine Jen wrote up!
What are your favorite grilling recipes? Tweet me at @Ninoswineexpert.
– Jennifer Laurie