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Grilling and Chilling

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At your next backyard barbecue, pass on a cold one and reach for these smokin’ wines

It’s the undeniable mouthwatering aroma that’s simply impossible to resist. A bouquet so aromatic, so intense, so enticing that it has carnivores blocks away licking their chops. But while it’s the intoxicating scent that beckons, it’s the distinct sizzle begging for attention and the perfectly uniform charred marks that thrust you into sensory overload. It’s one of summertime’s true pleasures: the classic American backyard barbecue.

While a cold brew is often the adult beverage of choice, there are numerous wine options that can enhance all your grilled delicacies, from andouille to zucchini. The trick is selecting the right wine that can complement instead of overtake the delicious smoky, grilled flavors. Naturally, the type of food you are grilling plays a big role in determining which wine will marry best. If you find yourself grilling more delicate flavors such as fish, chicken and vegetables, then opting for a white or rosé may be your best bet. Whereas if a hearty steak, lamb chop or sausage finds its way onto your pit, then a robust red would be in order. But, keeping the focus on wines that pair well with traditional barbecue selections like chicken, pork chops, burgers, ribs, steak and sausage, there are definitely wines that will please during your next cookout.

Starting with whites, try a lean, more fruit-driven wine with lively acidity such as a Chenin Blanc or Riesling, both of which are particularly tasty with chicken and pork. Due to their lively acidity, these selections will cut through a big, richly flavored barbecue sauce instead of seeming heavy and cloying as a rich, round, buttery Chardonnay would. Additionally, the off-dry, fruit-driven flavors are a nice contrast to the spicy, bold flavors of classic barbecue, creating a harmonious balance. Another good white choice is Vino Verde, a charming, fresh, lively white from Portugal that offers a slight effervescent spritz and a delightfully crisp, refreshing quality.

If you find yourself somewhere in the middle, then think pink! Consider serving a delicious dry rosé, which is an incredibly food-friendly wine and a great companion for barbecue ribs, chicken, sausage and pork. Pinot Noir–based rosés are especially delightful with grilled flavors, as are selections from Spain and Southern France. One of the main characteristics of a rosé is its fresh, aromatic bouquet, which is quite often similar to that of a young red wine. Due to its approachable acidity, roundness, moderate alcohol level and impeccable structure, rosés marry ideally with a vast variety of foods and are particularly tasty with practically anything you can put on the pit.

Nothing beats a tender, juicy cut of beef, a succulent lamb or venison chop or savory link of sausage when paired with a spicy, robust red wine. Grilled meats scream for the bold flavors of intensely flavored reds, and those that are particularly ideal include Zinfandel, Syrah, Rioja, Malbec and Côtes du Rhône. There are few wines that pair better with an all-American barbecue than Zin. Ripe and bursting with spice and black pepper, Zinfandel complements the spicy tang of barbecue and is the perfect match for ribs. Rioja, the classic Spanish red made from the tempranillo grape, is typically medium-bodied, spicy and fruit-driven, making it a great match with steak and other grilled meats. Malbec from Argentina boasts ripe black fruit flavors and spice that lends itself well to summertime cookout foods like burgers, ribs and sausage. Another good red choice is Côtes du Rhône, which is smooth and smoky and just right for pork ribs, chicken or barbecued brisket.

With so many perfect wine partners, it’s quite easy to find a fabulous selection for your next grill out. So fire up the pit, grab a corkscrew and savor the flavors of summer.

July Wine Picks
Famega Vinho Verde, $8

This terrific value from Portugal boasts delicate, fresh, crisp citrus flavors and a zesty acidity. Made from 100% Alvarinho (called Albarino in Spain), this delightful light and lively white is the perfect summertime wine and will pair well with grilled fish, veggies, pork chops and chicken.

Chateau de Montfort Vouvray, $14

Made from 100% Chenin Blanc, this French beauty is a fine expression of the grape, with ripe fruit-driven flavors of ripe melon, peaches and pears accented by a distinct mineral quality and slight floral notes. Refreshing and balanced, it offers crisp acidity and a pleasant finish.

Schloss Vollrads Kabinett Riesling, $17

This charming German Riesling emits lovely aromas of orange peel, limestone, green apples and lemon zest. Off-dry and incredibly foodfriendly, it has a racy acidity, with mouthwatering fresh fruit flavors complemented by a subtle slatelike quality.

Gran Feudo Julian Chivite Rosé, $10

Produced from 100% Grenache, this medium-bodied Spanish wine emits an aromatic bouquet of strawberries, fresh flowers, spice and mandarins. Juicy, ripe and round, it is bursting with Bing cherry, and berry flavors with a tinge of spice and bright acidity.

Campo Viejo Gran Reserva, $22
Made only in exceptional vintages, this Spanish blend spends three years in barrel, followed by three years in bottle before being released. Complex, rich and ripe, yet supple and mellow, it emits bold aromas of vanilla, spice, clove and black fruits and has silky, well-integrated tannins and a lingering, harmonious finish. It is the ideal companion for tangy barbecued ribs, grilled beef and lamb chops.

Chateau Mont-Redon Côtes du Rhône Rouge, $13

This classic Rhône blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah is an excellent example packed with intense black fruits, earthy, meaty aromas and flavors and a distinct licorice spice. Full-bodied, concentrated and well structured, this robust wine begs for bold flavors like grilled lamb, spicy sausages and barbecued beef.

Terrazas Malbec, $11
Deep purple-garnet in color, this Malbec from Argentina is full and lush with an intense nose of blackberries, dark chocolate, violets and cherries. Sophisticated, round and robust, it is smooth and silky on the palate with moderate tannins that meld gracefully into a lingering finish.

Kunde Estate Sonoma Zinfandel, $11
A spice-laden California Zin that offers bright raspberry and cherry aromas and flavors highlighted by vanilla, anise and cloves. Soft and lush with smooth tannins, this generous wine is the ideal choice to pair with smoky grilled chicken breasts, earthy Portobello mushrooms and Asian-flavored glazed pork chops.