Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Grill-Friendly Wines -- for Memorial Day

Weather permitting, most of us will celebrate the (unofficial) start of summer this weekend by spending as much time outdoors as possible. That includes cooking and eating, as well as any kind of play and exercise we can devise.

The healthy foodie likes her grill as much as most people, although we don't often barbeque meat. However, for the holiday, we'll make an exception. On our menu for a grill-out on Sunday: marinated pork tenderloin, and grilled beef tenderloin, as well. And I'll probably throw some veggies on the grill, too: red peppers and zucchini, and perhaps portobello mushrooms.

What wines will we have? If the temperature hits 85 or higher, we'll start with a fragrant white wine (gewurtztrminer, viognier, godello or torrontes are all possibilities) and perhaps a lovely rose (I've got one in my basement fridge that wants to be consumed). For the main course? Here are some options.
A lot of people recommend (red) zinfandel with grilled meats, but be forewarned: zins tend to be very "hot" -- meaning high in alcohol -- and can quickly put you on your butt. I am not crazy about anything highly alcoholic on a hot, humid day. Other possibilities:

Merlot has a characteristic fruit-forward flavor profile that will support the spice of marinades and barbecue sauces. Grilled pork chops, chicken and garden-variety salads with lighter dressings also mingle well with Merlot.
Shiraz/Syrah another varietal that makes the grill-friendly wine list. This varietal is delicious with just about any red meat. Offering dynamic, somewhat aggressive fruit flavors, balanced with more mellow tannins and a softer-fuller body – this wine’s place to shine is definitely at a barbecue gathering.
Cabernet Sauvignon is made for steaks with a higher fat content and burgers. (Not the best match for my tenderloins) The tighter tannins are significantly mellowed by the meat’s fat, producing a palate pleaser to remember. Top your burgers with bold cheeses, like blue or sharp cheddar and this varietal gets even better.
Pinot Noir a flexible varietal that is known for being extremely food-friendly. Can go from grilled fish to a juicy burger in a single sip! Pinot Noir is an ideal candidate for grilled fish – especially salmon, burgers and chicken both bare their best in the presence of Pinot Noir. If you aren’t sure if what wine will work with your grilled dinner, Pinot Noir will likely be your best bet.

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