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Summer BBQ Wines:

Hot Weather Wines & Pairings for the Grill

Summer BBQ Wines: Hot Weather Wines & Pairings for the Grill

At this time of year, when Summer has finally kicked into high gear, it's also the time we like to fire up the grill for many of our meals. It's too darn hot to turn the oven on in the house, and we crave foods that are lighter and less filling - yet that don't skimp on taste - which makes grilling ideal. For wines, during the summer we also tend towards lighter but still full-flavored selections that can complement dishes off the grill.

Summer BBQ White Wines - Sauvignon Blanc
My favorite Summer BBQ whites are those that are best served ice cold and that have a zesty acidity and racy flavor. Sauvignon Blanc is the prototype wine in this category, with a crisp backbone and lively grapefruit, grassy notes on the palate. Those from New Zealand in particular have a pungency that is both tremendously refreshing and can cut through the strong smokiness of grilled vegetables or chicken.

Our top picks for whites:

2008 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand ($14)
2008 Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand ($17)
2008 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand ($28)

Summer BBQ Red Wines - Zinfandel & Syrah
For reds, we're torn between two varietals: Zinfandel and Syrah. For tangier, spicier dishes or sauces, Zinfandel has a better wild, brambly 'kick' that holds
 its own with these flavors. We paired our Smoked Turkey Chili recipe with two different Zinfandels, but this grape would also do well with pork ribs smothered in barbeque sauce or steak fajitas. For more restrained dishes, like this week's featured recipe - Grilled Salmon with Sour Cream Dill Sauce - a leaner style of Syrah has an elegance that doesn't overpower the dish.

Our top picks for reds:

 2005 Renwood Zinfandel, Sierra Foothills, CA ($12)
2004 Gloria's Old Vines Zinfandel, Mendocino, CA ($18)
2006 Chateau Montelena Estate Zinfandel, Napa Valley, CA ($30)
2007 Chateau Pesquié Côtes du Ventoux "Cuvée des Terrasses" ($11)
2005 Luca Syrah, Mendoza, Argentina ($25)
2006 d'Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia ($60) 

Happy grilling!

Next Article:  Pairing Wines with Spicy Food
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