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?
Burgers 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)
Barbecued 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.