Which wines go best with grilled foods?Beer is the go-to backyard beverage when the barbecue gets fired up, but wine is a match for anything that bears grill marks. Oaky wines have flavors that mingle nicely with the smoky notes that grilling imparts, while fruity wines—with acidity to match—are delicious matched to the sweet caramelization of vegetables, fruits, and meats. A nice cold glass of sauvignon blanc glinting in the late-afternoon summer sun as chicken sizzles on the grill: Is there anything finer?
Cedar-Plank SalmonCedar-Plank Salmon is rich in healthy fat, so it needs an equally rich wine. The fish oil coats your mouth, so it works like a charm with buttery chardonnay. Avoid over-oaked bottles.
VALUE: Matassa Cuvée Nougé Blanc 2007 ($15) Citrusy with a mild saline character
Bzikot Bourgogne Blanc 2008 ($20) Butter, pear, and hazelnuts
HDV Chardonnay 2006 ($50) Fresh green apples set against ample minerality (pictured)
BurgersBurgers are not steak, so resist the temptation to reach for a colossal, in-your-face California cabernet or Left Bank Bordeaux that overwhelms or overcomplicates. Instead, a bright and juicy red complements the burger's beefiness, as well as any veggies that are likely part of the equation.
VALUE: Campos Reales Gladium Crianza 2006 ($11) Medium-bodied Spanish red wine with up-front raspberry
Vega Escal Priorat 2005 ($19) Smooth with a gentle spiciness of cedar, mineral, plum, and black cherry (pictured)
Monteviejo Lindaflor Malbec 2004 ($30) A riptide rush of ripe blueberry and blackberry
Barbecued ChickenBarbecued chicken takes on a nice char as it cooks on the grill—especially bone-in chicken, which takes longer to cook. Since that char leaves the palate feeling dry, reach for a light, crisp white to counterbalance.
VALUE: Reilly's Watervale Riesling 2007 ($15) Tropical stone fruit flavors; bone-dry finish
Casa Marin Sauvignon Blanc Cipresses 2008 ($20) Ripping acidity and the faintest hint of jalapeño (pictured)
Kartauserhof Smaragd Grüner Veltliner Achleiten 2007 ($30) Grapefruit, smokiness, complexity
Grilled Pork ChopsGrilled pork chops should be juicy, especially if they're brined before cooking. This meat can stand up to a red wine of some substance and tannin.
VALUE: Miguel Torres Celeste 2006 ($12) Robust with a firm tannic structure but not overpowering (pictured)
Domaine la Lorentine Lirac 2006 ($20) Savory, gamey, and round
Firriato Santagostino Rosso 2006 ($28) A hint of vanilla
Pairing Wine with Grilled Foods
There’s nothing like the smoky infusion that the grill gives to our favorite meat, poultry, and fish. Match wisely to accentuate this flavor.