In honor of summer BBQing season, I’m sharing WineShop At Home winemaker Alex Reble’s latest Winemaker’s Journal article on pairing grilled foods and wine. I hope you enjoy it.
What is grilling?
Grilled food receives dry heat from above or below for several minutes. Direct-heat grilling can expose food to temperatures often in excess of 500°F. The Maillard Reaction, also called the “browning reaction,” is the chemical process that releases grilled & roasted aromas and flavors. When beef is cooking between 300 to 500°F, as many as six hundred components can be identified in the aromas of the meat. In addition to being a flavorful way to cook, grilling is often considered a healthy alternative to cooking with oil.
Why Do Grilled Foods and Wine Pair Well Together?
There are many types of grills available and every country has its preference. Most European countries use a gridiron over a bed of burning charcoal. In South America, both asado (beef roasted on a fire), and steak a la parrilla (beefsteak cooked on a traditional grill) are national specialties. In the United States, grilling is usually done on charcoal grills, gas grills or more recently with infrared barbecues. Skewers, rotisserie, kabobs (meaning “to grill” in Persian), Asian “satay” and Mexican “alambre” are more popular than ever. Grilling with mesquite or hickory wood chips is also becoming more and more commonplace in American households.
Which grilled foods and wine pair well together?
In general, light-bodied wines come from white wine grapes and pair well with lighter dishes such as chicken, seafood or grilled veggies. Bold, full-bodied red wines enhance the flavors in most types of meat, like burgers, steaks or lamb, as well as freshly grilled pizzas. A well-seasoned steak tastes great with a peppery Zinfandel. Shrimp scampi goes really well with Chardonnay, but adding hot red pepper and garlic to the dish makes Zinfandel a better match because the spicy notes in the wine will complement the pepper in the dish.
Sometimes opposites attract, like a crisp Chardonnay paired with flavor-packed Asian dishes. Dry wines, like Cabernet Sauvignon, work best with high-protein foods, such as steak. They are rich in tannins, which help cleanse the palate of fat. For rich, heavy meals, reach for a luscious wine like a Chardonnay, or full-flavored wines with high acidity (like a Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon) to cut through the oils in the dish.
Quick BBQ & wine pairing suggestions
- Shrimp, lobster, prawns, catfish, mahi-mahi, bass, salmon, tilapia, tuna or pizza: le Cadeau Semi-Seco Sparkling, Frisch Spring Song Blend, Table White Wine or Homage Cellars Lot Number 22
- Grilled chicken, turkey, pork, duck or sausage: Table Red Wine, Broadmoore Estates Red Trails, Dusk 2017 Shiraz, Nouveau Muse 2016 Rhapsody
- Lamb, ribs, burgers or steak: Terroir Cellars 2017 Merlot, Adorn 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon-Cabernet Franc, Artisan 5 2014 Masterpiece, Fog Vineyards 2018 Zinfandel, Glory Cellars 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon or Revel 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon
However you choose to grill, chances are you will find the perfect WineShop At Home wine to pair with your flavorful, flame-grilled marvels. Happy grilling & tasting!
As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!
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