As grilling season is upon us, the task of pairing wines with your favorite backyard foods can be intimidating, but is actually quite simple. Grilling is centered around meat, which holds two characteristics that are important wine pairing. The first is flavor. For heavy red meats like steaks and lamb, the most dominant flavor will always be in the meat itself, even with the addition of marinades and spices. Chicken and fish, on the other hand can be easily overwhelmed by their marinades, sauces or spices. As such it is always important to recognize the dominant flavor of your foods and pair to those.
The second important characteristic is the heartiness of the meat itself. If you are grilling fish, vegetables or chicken, you will want to match those with a lighter bodied wine. Steak, burgers, or other red meats will pair well with heavy bodied red wines.
Here are some suggestions:
With Red Meats, Barbecues & Game
These meats call for fuller-bodied styles of wine. Beef and lamb in particular tend to be complemented by tannic red wines. However, the sauces served also affect the choice.
Powerful reds such as Shiraz or Zinfandel
Beef (hamburgers, steak au poivre, or in pastry)
Powerful, full-bodied Zinfandel from California.
Beef (roast beef or steak)
Full-bodied Shiraz, Cabernet or Cabernet-Shiraz blend.
A good-quality Pinot Noir from Oregon or Sonoma.
A good-quality Cabernet Sauvignon.
Good Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet-Merlot blend.
Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or light red wines
Spicy reds like a peppery Shiraz
Lighter cool-climate reds such as a pinot noir from Oregon