With the laid-back vibe, paper plates, and no-fuss dishes associated with a cookout, washing down your meal with an ice cold brewski probably feels like muscle memory. But a well-paired glass of wine can be the key to turning your casual grilled meal into a next-level gastronomic experience.
“I’m an advocate for opening up a delicious bottle of wine to go alongside my cookout,” says Samantha Capaldi, certified sommelier. “The umami and high-fat content in your grilled meats covered in savory and tangy BBQ sauce will balance out the tannins in a bold red wine.
But white wines are just as important to stand alongside your grilled fish, citrus salads, and lightly seasoned meats.”
From reds, to whites, rosés, and even bubblies, these nine food-friendly wines want a place at your BBQ picnic table as much as we do.
J Vineyards Pinot Gris ($20)
Think of pinot gris and pinot grigio as identical twins who were separated at birth and raised in different countries. They are literally the same grape (called pinot gris), so while they have the same DNA, they display distinct characteristics due to their different environments and upbringings. American-made pinot gris, like this refreshing bottle from Sonoma County, tend to exhibit less biting acidity than Italian pinot grigio, but with more exaggerated fruit flavors of green apple, pear, and citrus. Long story short, pair this wine with sea scallops, honey BBQ chicken, and grilled pineapple right the heck now.
Zonin Prosecco ($12.99)
Sippin’ bubbly somehow always feels extra special, but that doesn’t mean you need to go putting your pinkies up about it — especially not at a chill-vibe BBQ. Be celebratory without being snobby and pop some food- (and budget-) friendly Prosecco, then serve it up with grilled lobster and plastic bibs for all. Try Zonin, which is a dry, easy-drinking sparkler with pleasant fruit and almond notes that make a nice companion to the lobster meat. Its rich mousse-y texture and fine perilage (AKA, tight, sprightly bubbles) will also help bust through that buttery dipping sauce.
2015 Purple Heart Red Blend ($20)
Here’s a wine that’s fit for raising a patriotic toast on July Fourth in more ways than one. The Purple Heart Wines project is a collaboration between C. Mondavi & Family and the Purple Heart Foundation, raising money to serve the unmet needs of military men, women, and families. This inviting red blend is made up of merlot, zinfandel, petit verdot, and cabernet franc, all sourced from a small selection of choice lots in Sonoma County. In the spirit of patriotism, pair this bottle with something all-American and gamey, like lightly spiced steak kebabs or stuffed Gouda burgers; with the wine’s balanced tannins, velvety texture, and a taste of stewed fruits, black pepper, and toasted oak, you’ll be saluting the flavors combos in your mouth right along with the American flag.
Murrieta’s Well “The Whip” ($26)
Napa and Sonoma are great and all, but allow us to introduce you to the Livermore Valley, one of California’s oldest wine regions and an unsung grape-growing hero. Over 30 varietals are able to flourish in the valley with its unique climate and geography, including chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, semillon, viognier, orange muscat, and muscat canelli — all of which join forces to create The Whip’s gorgeous aromatics and textured mouthfeel. So get crackin’ (sorry, we had to) and pair this refreshing white with spicy shrimp kabobs, Cajun-rubbed grilled chicken, or hot dogs; the wine’s crisp acidity is perfect for cutting through the fat and enhancing the chargrilled meat flavor.