With 4th of July right around the corner, it’s time to think about barbecues. While many people think beer when they think barbecue, I think wine! So the focus of today’s article is about great wines that go with grilled food.
My personal favorites for barbecues are Sparkling Wines, Syrahs and Zinfandels. But let me share some helpful pointers that I picked up from a variety of wine experts.
Guidelines for Choosing Great Barbecue Wines
Let’s start with a wonderful quote from Adam Perry Lang, owner of Daisy May’s BBQ USA in New York City. He says, “Wine is to barbecue what pickled ginger is to sushi—a palate cleanser.”
When you think of a palate cleanser, you think crisp, acidic and refreshing. Sparkling Wine fits the bill perfectly here, as do some acidic whites like Sauvignon Blanc and a dry Riesling.
Let’s follow Lang’s quote up with three rules from Wine Folly. They recommend:
- Looking for a beer substitute – again, think Sparkling Wine;
- Chilling everything – chilling a red brings out the fruitiness, which is a very good thing at a hot summer barbecue;
- Going cheap – you don’t want to force people to think harder than they need to at a casual summer get together.
And a final rule from Dick Rosano: Go simple. Rosano says, “The spirit of outdoor dining—including the tendency to serve lighter, less cerebral, beverages—simplifies the choice.”
Best Red Barbecue Wines
If the weather isn’t too hot, Syrah and Zinfandel are two of the best red barbecue wines. According to Alexis Beltrami, you want “a young, bold, fruity and spicy red wine.” Syrah and Zinfandel, with their respective smokiness and pepper notes, are perfect here.
If you’re grilling steaks, you can go for a wider ranger of reds, including Cabernets. But if the weather is too hot, you run the risk of losing the wine’s aromas and having an un-refreshing experience.
Best Non-red Barbecue Wines
According to Rosano, “Sparkling wines beat the heat and play well with almost any grilled food. Stick to the quaffable wines like Prosecco or Cava, or maybe a light-bodied California bubbly, and leave the vintage Champagne in the cellar.”
If you’re not doing sparkling, go with a high acidity wine like Sauvignon Blanc or dry Riesling. If you’re serving fattier fish, a Chardonnay works well too.
Rosano also recommends Rosés, saying that they “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.”
Here’s to a July 4th celebration filled with family, friends, good cheer, good fireworks, good food and good wine!