Easy guide to summer grilled meats and red wine pairings

Cropped image of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes fro...

Cropped image of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from Hedges Vineyards in Red Mountain, Washington. Photo taken August 28th, 2007 with a Kodak z650 camera. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s starting to look like summer. How do I know? We had our first 100 degree day and the weatherman said look for about 75 more days just like it before it cools off. The Indy 500 is just around the corner. Pools are opening. They are playing baseball. The kids will be out for summer!

The question is… what do you like to eat off the grill? This kind of cooking is supposed to be fun. Putting wine with it just adds to the overall experience.

Well, we can do pork, steaks, chops, sausages, ribs, kebobs and depending how creative and or daring you are, we can do onions, rice balls, garlic cloves, apples, taters, and others.

The go to drink around the grill is a cold beer. What can be better than an ice cold Stella while watching the grille? Tough duty y’all!

Let’s think through some wine pairings to complement that grilled fare. We need to think about the sauces we are doing with the grilled meat first. Let’s start with some red varietals. By the way, I am sticking to reds for this article.

A couple of titans come to mind right away, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Let’s start with the Merlot. I discovered it years ago in a famous steakhouse in Southern California. I was at a dinner interview with a client and candidate. The wine was ordered and actually made a darn good impression on me. I found it to be fruity with a blackberry smack to get your attention. I have tried it many times since and have become a fan. What to pair it with just off the grill? I would say a nicely grilled marinated chicken or well seasoned pork chop would be great. It will work well with freshly tossed salads. Don’t forget a crusty slice of grilled garlic bread and a wedge of Monterey Jack on the plate too. Sounds great to me!

Cab Sav is a no brainer for grilled meats. I like it better for when we pluck a steak or brisket off the grill. Doesn’t it just scream for a smoked NY Strip?  This one is the choice if you like to top your steaks with a layer of gorgonzola or blue and some caramelized onions. Also consider packing one of those coal roasted potatoes with a very sharp cheddar and let it melt together on the plate.  Now I’m getting hungry. Like with the Merlot, don’t forget a buttery, garlic slathered slice of sourdough or French bread to soak up the juices. Cab Sav is strong player around the grill. How can you go wrong? Enjoy!

Next up, you cannot bring up wine and grilled meat and forget the Shiraz! Now here is wine that goes with all the meats that come off the grill. I suggest a Shiraz for those who want to taste the red wine with their food but maybe find the Merlot or Cab Sav a bit much. Think of Shiraz as everyone’s friend around the dinner grill! It is softer and a little more balanced. It goes great with brisket and you can even work a little into the basting cycle.

If you have no other choice than to throw a couple of shrimps on the barbie, then Pinot Noir is a good bet. Shrimps, scallops, lobster tails or slabs of fish work great off the grill. Make sure the Pinot Noir is there too. It is a great all around wine. When you need a red in a clutch situation, PN is the way to go. It travels great if the dinner grill is in a neighbor’s yard. Versatile, easy to drink, this is one to enjoy when it’s about food, friends, and fun!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Zinfandel. Keep this one handy for your boldest sauces. The wine has a strong black pepper spice and can stand up to a bold tomato based bbq sauce. The acidity and tannins will meld with the meat’s fat. This is delicious waiting to happen. Zin can handle the hot and spicy. If you have any influence over what goes into the sauce, just remember that Zin will over power the super spicy. Let the Zin shine. You don’t want the meat and wine to cancel each other out. Call in the Zin! Don’t be shy!

Well, there you have it, red wine and food pairing quick and dirty.

Now, where is that mesquite charcoal? And some one get me a Rolling Rock, it’s hot as hell out here!


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