Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wines for Summer's Final Party

Well, it’s here – the ‘unofficial’ end of summer.  True, we still have a few more weeks of warm (OK – hot) weather, but with school starting, those lazy days and weekends are ending.  So plan one more picnic, cookout, or great all-out get-together and bid summer a final adieu.

The Right Wines:
Great parties call for great food and great wine.  White wines have been the mainstay of summer, crisp, light, and mainly chilled.  So let’s send off the season with an eye toward those moody autumnal red wines, with a few whites thrown in for comfort.  Fire up the grill and let’s start pairing!

Burgers and Ribs:
Try a full-bodied red wine, maybe a Zinfandel with some nice tannins, or a Syrah.  The Zin’s fruity and spicy flavors will go well with a burger or ribs. The Syrah has a peppery, plumy flavor that is wonderful with grilled red meats.

Steak or Lamb:
You won’t fail with a Cabernet Sauvignon and steak or lamb; but another great wine that’s often overlooked is Malbec.  The tannins are hearty, the aroma can have hints of plum or tobacco, and the flavor should be fruity.  For lamb burger or chops, Pinot Noir is nice.

Pork and Ribs:
Although I won’t hesitate to pair a red with pork, many still feel more comfortable pairing a white wine with ‘the other white meat,’ especially when entertaining.  If so, then grab a chilled bottle of Gewurztraminer or Chenin Blanc for a nice alternative.  Perfect with chops hot off the grill!
Otherwise, try a Merlot with chops, and a Barbera with grilled pork ribs.

Hot Dogs or Brats
You know someone will ask, so here are some options: A Zinfandel will work well with grilled dogs.  If you’re adding a chili sauce, go for a Beaujolais.  For grilled brats, try a Pinot Noir, or a chilled Riesling.

Chicken and Poultry:
Yes, I know, Chardonnay is the natural answer, but if you adhere to the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) rule, let’s look at some alternatives. A drier Chenin Blanc will let that grilled chicken flavor shine through. 

Feeling a bit bold?  Pair a Merlot with it, those berry flavors and a spicy finish can make grilled chicken taste amazing.

Pinot Grigio’s crispness goes well with plain, grilled fish or shirmp.  If you’re grilling salmon, tuna or mackerel then pull out a red wine, maybe Pinot Noir or Merlot.

Of course, sauces and sides may affect your pairing, so take a bite of the food and a drink of the wine and see if it works for you.  Remember, wine is subjective; the main point is to celebrate the end of summer with the food, the wines, and the people you love - so Enjoy!

~  Joy