From the cellar: Grilling and great wines fire up a hot combination - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

From the cellar: Grilling and great wines fire up a hot combination

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Posted: Tuesday, May 27, 2008 11:08 pm | Updated: 11:39 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Those who say wine and barbecue don’t mix must have a screw loose. I can’t imagine anything better than a sizzling T-bone, fresh off the grill, with a glass of cabernet sauvignon. Or marinated pork chops and pinot noir.

Those who say wine and barbecue don’t mix must have a screw loose. I can’t imagine anything better than a sizzling T-bone, fresh off the grill, with a glass of cabernet sauvignon. Or marinated pork chops and pinot noir. I could go on and talk about sausages and shiraz, or zinfandel with burgers, or grilled prawns and a zesty sauvignon blanc — so I will. Even if we’re talking sweet, saucy beef or pork ribs, I’d still wash those down with a fat zin over a Bud any day.

The thought is that even though the heat is now officially on, there’s no need to dry-dock your corkscrew in lieu of beer or blended drinks. There’s a place for those two when appropriate, just place them down next to the bottle of Beringer and grab a plate.

Two weeks ago, I grilled an entire meal for a few friends — teriyaki steaks, citrus prawns, Chinese five spice ribs, baby bok choy, sliced zucchini and summer squash, baby bell peppers, crimini mushrooms and corn on the cob — and served everything with a combination of Francis Ford Coppola’s Bianco (a great, everyday white) and Clos du Val 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, both from California. My thought being that we could start with the lively white, which would be great with the shrimp and veggies and move to the weightier meats, mushrooms and corn with the cab. The combinations proved a home run.

Why do you want the heat in your home? Send it outside to the barbecue, along with a few bottles. Toss out any preconceived ideas regarding wine and barbecue, and think in terms of what best pairs with your food. Below are a few suggested wines that take the heat and some potential meal ideas.

Nipozzano 2005 Chianti Riserva, Italy. The moment I tasted this new release from venerable Italian producer Marchesi de Frescobaldi, I immediately envisioned grilled sausages and peppers, perhaps even a brat on a bun smothered in peppers and onions. The wine is made from 90 percent sangiovese grapes, which provide structure and solid fruit base. The tannins make it a good food wine, but you could also cellar this one for a special occasion down the road. $25.

Bennett Lane Winery 2007 White Maximus, Napa Valley. Keeping with the Italian thread, I see serving this lively sauv blanc base wine with a cold roasted vegetable antipasti course. You know, grilled eggplant, zucchini, peppers and such coated in rich extra virgin olive oil. Lesser amounts of chardonnay and muscat flesh out this great starter wine that is full-bodied, aromatic and elegant. $28.

Rosemount Estate 2006 Diamond Label Merlot, Australia. OK, here’s your barbecue party wine. The price is friendly, but the wine is friendlier. The medium body wine with dark plum fruit flavors is supported by velvety tannins, which makes it a good candidate to chill (yes, I said chill a red wine) and sip on its own by the pool. However, pair it with juicy hamburger and you’ll see the wine’s full potential. $10.

Sebastiani 2005 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma. Which cut of steak are you grilling tonight? Here’s your wine. I served last year’s vintage with bacon-wrapped filet mignon and about lost my mind. This year’s vintage may be even better, perhaps due to a lot of tinkering by winemaker Mark Lyon. He included small amounts of malbec, merlot, petite sirah, petite verdot and cab franc to soften and round out seductively complex wine. I’m picking up another bottle and couple of rib-eyes this weekend. $30.

White Truck Chardonnay, California. Chicken, chicken, chicken. Seems that’s all the kids want to eat. Steaks? No. Pork chops? No. Shrimp? No. All right, chicken it is. At least I have the right wine to wash it down. I admire the clean, simple wines from this company. This one was made with stainless steel fermentation versus oak aging, which retained all of the pleasant Santa Barbara fruit flavor. $12.

While you’re grilling and sipping, remember that heat and alcohol do not mix. Offer your guests, and yourself, bottled water in addition to wine. Everyone will feel better in the morning.

Got a wine- and spirits-related question you’d like to see addressed in a column? Contact Mark at mknothaft@cox.net.

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