Along with the bright rays of the summer sun come the hard-to-turn-down opportunities to spend every minute possible outside. When the weather gets warm, I turn to al fresco everything, from reading in the hammock to Sunday mornings sipping iced coffee with pals on patios. That means cooking outside too — who can say no to quick, flavorful meals from the grill? Whether you’re invited to a friend’s backyard barbeque or you’re hosting a yard party of your own, it’s helpful to know what wines to pair with certain grilled foods so you know what to bring and what to serve. Turn to our Top Ten Wines for Summer. They’re top-notch picks at easy-to-swallow prices (all are under $20 a bottle!), so it’s easy to stock up and be set for grilling and sipping all summer long! Here are some of our favorite wine pairings for grilled foods. If you’re grilling burgers…
Try Columbia Winery Merlot, an “under the radar” wine from Washington state by a winery began in 1962 by 10 friends, 6 of which were professors at University of Washington.
- Flavor: lively, complex plum and oak
- Palate: firm but supple
- Other pairings include: chili, cured meats, Eggplant Parmesan, Eggplant Bolognese and Parrano, an aged cheese from Holland with a nutty, salty flavor
If you’re grilling squid…
Try Kyklos Moschofilero, a new-world-style Greek wine made from some of the world’s oldest grape varieties
- Flavor: peach, white pepper, fresh vegetable notes
- Palate: zingy, pleasant finish
- Other pairings include: oysters, orzo salad with feta, salted almonds, Calamari Pasta and Mahón, a raw cow’s milk cheese with a gently sharp, long, sweet finish
If you’re grilling fajitas…
Try Tormaresca Neprica, a blend of three grapes grown in the Puglia region of Italy. The word “Neprica” in the name is a portmanteau of the grapes’ names; Negroamaro, Primitivo and Cabernet.
- Flavor: rich, ripe red fruits, black raspberry
- Palate: smooth and structured
- Other pairings include: olive tapenade, pepper steak, Skillet Fajitas with Jicama Salsa and Drunken Goat, a Spanish goat cheese cured for a few days in a regional red wine
If you’re barbequing… Try Bubo Cabernet Sauvignon or Pallas Tempranillo by Jorge Ordóñez
Bubo Cabernet Sauvignon is a crowd-pleasing Cabernet at a wise price … "bubo" is Latin for owl, after all!
- Flavor: plums, black cherry, black currant
- Palate: medium- to full-bodied, smooth finish
- Other pairings include: Grilled Vegetable Pizza, lasagna and Grafton Classic Reserve Cheddar Aged 2 Years, a Vermont cheddar with a lingering acidic finish that brings out hints of black currant in the wine
Pallas Tempranillo by Jorge Ordóñez is made from a blend of grapes from vineyards in La Mancha and brought to us by one of the most influential Spanish winemakers in the world.
- Flavor: fresh, spicy, vibrant blueberry, rhubarb
- Palate: lip-smacking, full-bodied
- Other pairings include: paella, Spanish chorizo or merguez, most grilled meats, Spanish Chickpeas and Chorizo and Solé Gran Queso, a buttery cheese from Wisconsin that is hand-rubbed with spices
If you’re grilling salmon…
Try Vinum Cellars Pinot Noir, from a very small producer that includes a former Whole Foods Market Team Member!
- Flavor: ripe cherries, coffee, earthy, oaky
- Palate: full-bodied, gentle tannins
- Other pairings include: lamb chops, pork loin with fruit, Firecracker Grilled Salmon and Borough Market Cheddar, a complex English clothbound cheddar
And of course, if you’re grilling any of the above … well, invite me over! I’ll make sure to bring the appropriate wine.
What do you plan on grilling this summer?