Wine pairing for summer grilling, the key is simplicity

Pairing food and wine can seem like a daunting task.Summer-time grilling serves up such a wide range of flavors that pairing them with wine can sometimes be a challenge.  Because the food may be driven by different flavor accents from a sauce or a spice, each meat could swing from one side of the wine spectrum to the other. Fortunately, the spirit of outdoor dining includes the tendency to serve lighter, less thought-provoking beverages. This simplifies the choice of which wine to put on the table.

Living in wine country has its benefits. One of the Yakima Valley’s biggest strengths is its diversity, the Valley grows more than 46 wine grape varieties which produce a large selection of great wines to choose from when planning a barbecue. The following are some options to consider when selecting the wines for your next outdoor grilling party.

Shot of a group of friends making a toast over dinner

Sparkling Wine
Sparkling wines are great for hot weather and they play well with almost any grilled food. Two local wineries serving outstanding sparkling wines are Treveri Cellars in Wapato and 14 Hands Winery in Prosser. Wines for the table could include: Treveri Cellars Sparkling Gewürztraminer ($17) or 14 Hands Brut ($15).

White Wine
White wines are well suited to grilled chicken, fish, and some pork recipes. Sauvignon Blanc, a dry Rieslingor even an unoaked Chardonnayare pairing options.If you are serving fattier fish such as tuna or trout, choose a Chardonnay or Viognier. If you are grilling veggie burgers Chardonnay is a good pick.  White wines to consider include: Two Mountain 2017 Sauvignon Blanc (hurry, this wine is in high demand and low supply), AntoLin Cellars Riesling ($15) and the Gilbert Cellars 2016 Unoaked Chardonnay ($20).

Rosés are very popular right now and will definitely add lift and spirit to summer’s outdoor gatherings. Served chilled, these wines have a bit more acidity than white wines which allows them to take on some of the grilled flavors. Among the easy favorites in this category are 2017 Thurston Wolfe Lemberger Rosé, ($15), Va Piano Roséof Cabernet Franc ($22) or Fortuity Cellars 2017 Rose’ of Cinsault ($24).

Red Wine
When pork or salmon is on the menu, look for a Primitivo. A great option is Yakima Valley Vintners 2014 Primitivo. The richer flavors of the meat rely on the weight and texture of the wine, those same flavors would get lost with a heavier wine like Cabernet Sauvignon. Smoked meats are also good with a Primitivo playing off the smoky flavors of the wine.

If you’re serving hamburgers, steak, or barbecued ribs, big red wines are what you want. Cabernet Sauvignon or Tempranillo are good matches, but if the spice turns the dish hot, consider something with spice such as Syrah or Malbec.

Although a few of these choices break with the thought of pairing with lighter wines, they are great options for grilled steak or hamburger. Reach for the Chandler Reach 2013 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($48), Kana Winery 2011 Tempranillo, Yakima Valley ($16), Co Dinn Cellars 2014 Roskamp Vineyard Syrah ($50) or the DeLille Cellars 2014 Red Willow Malbec ($44).

The key to successful wine-food pairing for that backyard barbecue is simplicity. Don’t choose a wine that requires too much thought, make sure you like both the wine and the food, after all outdoor grilling is casual, fun and doesn’t really call for overthinking the pairings.

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