Now that the weather has finally changed to give us spring, my mind wanders toward grilling. At my house grilling season is always coupled with wine to complement our meals. For me there are really five wine staples we have on hand for nearly any food we would grill.
For me the biggest staple of all wine to have on hand for grilling season is Marietta Petite Sirah. This may be a surprise to some as Cabernet is commonly thought of as the best grilling wine (worry not as it does make my list too). For me this choice comes down to my favorite grilling experience – grilled fresh wild boar sausage with the Marietta Petite Sirah. The lush and mouth filling character of this wine with its pleasing tannins stand up beautifully to the spice and grilled flavor of the sausage. Really this wine will stand up to any grilled rich pork or beef dish.
Sparkling wine is not usually part of the discussion with grilled foods. For me when I’m standing over a hot grill I like a refreshing beverage and for me there is nothing more refreshing than sparkling wine. In addition to using sparkling wine as refreshment, there are also grilled food pairings that it works well with. Grilled Portobello mushrooms with sparkling wine are dynamite. Food that is grilled with a generous amount of cheese like a three cheese cheeseburger or a nice steak smothered in blue cheese are some of my favorites with sparkling wine as well. Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut is often our top choice for its complex aromatics with bright acidity both of which give it that refreshing quality while being utterly delicious.
Pinot Noir is always a very food friendly wine because of its make up of bright floral aromas, with cherry and oak flavors finishing with a bright pleasant acidity. The Pedroncelli Russian River Pinot Noir is a great example of these characteristics without breaking the bank. This wine is a fantastic choice with cedar plank grilled salmon but also pairs well with grilled dishes accented by mushrooms, onions and/or shallots.
This may strike you as odd but another staple for me when grilling is Sake. Not just any Sake either but the Momokawa Organic Junmai Ginjo. This Sake has explosive aromas of pineapple and tropical flowers carry throughout the palate and finish clean. These qualities in the Sake make it the perfect complement to savory grilled chicken or fresh salmon.
Even though it is not my first choice, I would be remiss not to include Cabernet Sauvignon in this list. The Great American Wine Company Cabernet Sauvignon by Rosenblum Cellars is a great choice for grilling. Its dark fruit notes with toasty oak spices and firm tannins make a big wine that will stand up to almost any grilled red meat.
If you don’t like my choices, here are a few final food pairing thoughts to come up with some combinations on your own. Put savory foods with bold wines and protein and fats with wines having firm tannins. Finely and precisely prepared food should be paired with fragrant wines. Finally, if you like the food and you like the wine it’s hard to argue with that pairing.
Until next time – Cheers!
Coborn’s Liquor Division Assistant Manager
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