Gourmet Grill: Advice On Pairing
Grilled Food With Wine
Enthusiasts know that wine tastes great with just about any kind of food. It's just a matter of matching the proper type of wine with whatever happens to be on your menu. With summer winding down, there aren't going to be many more months to get outside and cook on the grill; and traditionally, grilled foods are associated with beer or mixed drinks, not wine. Whether you want to try out something new on the grill before summer comes to a close or plan on keeping your grill up and running throughout fall, read on to learn what grilled foods go best with wine.
Seafood, like fish, shrimp, lobster and crab typically pair best with lighter white wines. Crisp, often chilled white wine really has the ability to accent subtle flavors in fish. Bolder wines, such as most red wines, tend to overpower those flavors and therefore are better suited for red meats. However, there are exceptions to the rule. Seafood with sauce or seasoned with complex flavors change the situation entirely. For example, Pinot Noir is noted for bringing out the best in salmon. Shellfish that's difficult to pair with red wine, like lobster, is known for going well with Pinot Noir if served with cocktail sauce.
Raw Red Meats
Heavier meats, especially red meats, are better with bolder red wines. If you're the type of person who loves cooking up a classic burger, Cabernet Sauvignon or a strong California Zinfandel could be the wine for your palate. With burgers, the wine you choose has more to do with the flavors of your toppings than the beef. Bold flavors like grilled onions and thick sauces need an equally strong flavor that won't be overpowered, such as a Cabernet Franc or Merlot. If you're in the mood for steak, just remember to pair your wine according to the cut of the meat. The leaner the meat, the lighter the wine. The less it's cooked, the bolder the red.
Once you start seasoning meat, the wine pairing can get a little trickier. Smoky or spicy types of barbecue sauce or even the sweeter concoctions are difficult to match because of their unique and strong flavors. A general rule for combating and complementing unusual flavors when grilling is to go for wines with a higher acidity. The rule is taken from pairing wine with certain types of pasta sauces. Rich tomato-based sauces often go well with wines of high acidity such as Chianti or the popular Cabernet Sauvignon, but white wines like a crisp Riesling will also do the trick.
The Very Best Veggies
Grilling isn't all about the meat, and vegetarians aren't the only grillers throwing veggies on the grates. Finding the right kind of vegetables to pair with wine can be difficult. Like pairing with a spicy sauce or a bold burger topping, a general guideline for grilled vegetables is to focus on the types of seasonings or sauces you plan to use. The herbs, spices, butter or sauces can tell you everything you need to know. Lower alcohol content and less tannin (better known as that dry sensation experienced when drinking wine, and yes, the same solution is used for getting that smooth luxurious texture on leather charm bracelets) go well with spicy flavors, and sweet wines like a White Zinfandel add flavor to veggies that are typically basic or bland.
Experienced grillmasters understand the difficulties that accompany the exact science of mixing a perfect marinade. Trying to find the right herbs or spices, fatty ingredients and acidic base can drive you crazy, especially when you consider that each meat has different requirements. It's an easier experience when you know the role wine plays in a delicious marinade. Wine is used as a base for marinades because of its acidity. The acidity breaks down the meat, making it tender while adding flavor. As a general rule, stick to red wine for red meats like steak and white wines for seafood and chicken. Stick to rounding out your flavor with herbs and spices if you're trying out a recipe for the first time, and only use high-acid wine if you aren't marinating overnight.
You won't know what type of wine is perfect for your palate until you fire up the grill and start trying out some of your favorite recipes. Throw a few end-of-summer parties or keep the grill open for autumn with grilling essentials, outdoor lawn furniture and more from The Lakeside Collection, and check out our selection of dining supplies like cake server sets for dessert.