Summer is upon us, and we find ourselves in the grill season and therefore it is ideal and advantageous to look at the accompanying wines, which are suitable for charcoal, sunshine and pleasant company. Please note that our starting point is in classic and old school grilling on charcoal and not a modern-day gas grill but should you, constant reader, be the happy owner of a gas grill, the grill police won’t be knocking on your door for finding inspiration in the following text.
Although it is said that everything can be grilled, we focus here on meat, since it after all is the ingredient that most people associate with grilling. That being said, vegetarians and vegans need not stop reading now as there will also be included examples and suggestions for grilled fish and vegetables.
Grill season and wine
Generally speaking, food prepared on the grill benefit from sweet wines. And here we aren’t talking about port, Sauternes or other types of dessert wines but red wines and often overseas and preferably with a high amount of alcohol and some barrel fermentation. The reason for this is, among other things, the smokiness that inevitably comes with outdoor grilling plus the fact that grilled meat often is accompanied by and/or covered with sweet sauces, marinades and glazes. Therefore, it is a good rule of thumb that one should exchange the red wine rich on tannins that went so well with the pan seared steak with a more smooth and sweet wine when making the switch to the garden grill.
When firing up the grill, most people probably associate red wine with assembling the perfect wine and food pairing but actually, white wine can in many cases do the job equally well. If for instance it is a grilled corn on the cob (which of course is subsequently based in butter) or a grilled piece of salmon, a Chardonnay from the US or Australia does the job exquisitely. If one’s taste is not for the creamy and buttery notes, an aromatic Gewurztraminer can also work.
Grilled chicken and steak
Grilled chicken is another classic but also a good example of changing the wines when moving from oven to grill. Lighter, fruitier wines like Pinot noir are often excellent for oven baked chicken but chicken on the grill often call for more potent and full-bodied wines. This could for instance be a succulent and powerful Barbera or an overseas Merlot or Zinfandel.
Another concrete example of switching geography (albeit quite locally), is when dealing with lamb. With lamb, the red wines from the northern Rhône rich on tannins will come across as too dry whereas a softer and fruiter wine from the southern Rhône will do considerably better. Alternatively, an overseas Zinfandel or Shiraz is always a sure thing.
Correspondingly, a move from Europe to the new world is a good idea when dealing with steaks since the tannins become more balanced, the wines become softer, fruitier and often with longer barrel fermentation. Cabernet sauvignon from California is an obvious choice but feel free to try Malbec from Argentina, Camenère from Chile or Syrah/Shiraz from South Africa or Australia respectively.
Crazy about wine
This post is written by our very own wine expert Loui, who has his daily routine in our showroom in Denmark.
Loui will continuously share his knowledge of the marvelous world of wine, and we dare to promise that there will be something for both the beginner and the seasoned connoisseur.
If you are thirsty for more wine cravingse, you can also dive into our large archive of previous articles.