How To Pair Wine with Barbecued Foods

steak, wine, grill The start of the grilling season means delicious smokey meals, perfectly charred dinners, and even grill-inspired desserts. While a nice glass of your favorite wine is desired for any meal, when the grills come out, the bottles of wine seem to go in. But just like you pair your wine with your light salad for lunch or a hearty stew that's been cooking all day for dinner, wine can also be paired with grilling and barbecue.  For the holiday weekend and many sunny weekends after, here are 3 tips to help you pair wine at your next barbecue. 

The same principle follows: 

It's common to pair light wines with light foods and rich wines with rich foods. Pairing wine and grilled foods is no different. The technique of grilling and barbecuing brings on new delicious flavors that wine can help accentuate. Just like a typical wine pairing, you want to keep the flavors, additional ingredients and cooking methods in mind. These are key factors in which wine you will be serving, so preparing your grilling menu before hand will help the with the wine selection, even if it's just a simple menu of hot dogs, brats, and a salad. Wine and food should compliment, not dominate.

Red, White & Pairings: 

Start off with the basics about what you know about pairing wine with food. If you know that steak typically gets a big bold red wine like a Cabernet, grilled burgers, and ribs come in second. If your grilled lamb kebabs have been accompanied with herbs, take into consideration a Grenache or a Syrah, which will help highlight the gaminess of the lamb. Red sangria is also good for grilling. The red wine used in the sangria and the sweetness of the fruit complement the smoke and the char. Grilling meaty mushrooms also calls for red wine, and the bubbles of a Lambrusco cuts the fat on your palate from a rack of saucy ribs.

Salads, summer vegetable and pasta dishes are great for barbecues and white wines and bubbly fit well here. Riesling shines with hot dogs and sausages. Typically on the saltier side, sausages and Riesling become friends when the sweetness of some Rieslings meet the salty fattiness of a grilled sausage. Fumé Blancs, Chardonnays, Champagnes, and Pinot Gris will cover everything from grilled vegetables, lightly grilled fish, and grilled chicken. Remember it's ok to add bubbly to your barbecue, having Champagne or a sparkling wine will help cleanse the palate from rich foods.

Let's not forget dessert! A grilled pound cake or lightly grilled peaches call for a sparkling Moscato.

It's all about you: 

Dining al fresco, throwing a weekend barbecue or lighting up the grill for a different spin on tonight dinner are all wonderful things. The ultimate goal is to have a amazing time with friends and family over great food. The one thing to remember is, you don't have to stress over the exact pairing of food with wine. Drinking what you like will not only be familiar, but it will also help you to enjoy time with friends and family.

For more grilling stories: 

Off the Shelf: Wines of the Southern Hemisphere

In this new series we explore the books, new and old, that sit on our conference bookshelf. 

Wine has been around for thousands of years but now more than ever, wine is popular through out the entire world. Known wine regions such as the United States and Europe are where people generally go to when searching for a great bottle of wine, but now, other countries are producing wines that are gaining major recognition from wine enthusiasts, sommeliers, and chefs,  even down to the amateur wine drinker. Wines of the Southern Hemisphere: The Complete Guide  by known world wine guys Mike Desimone and Jeff Jenssen have put together a 592-page guide to everything you need to know about wines below the equator.

Argentina, Chile, Australia, South Africa, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, and New Zealand are the countries highlighted in this guide accompanied by 3 sections: Major Grape Varieties; Wine Region; and Recipe. Both Mike Desimone and Jeff Jenssen want you to understand how large the growing new world of southern hemisphere wines really are, by showcasing rich traditions and the great vineyards these countries posses. And, numbers don't lie, with wine sales shooting from 3% in 1990 to 27% in 2009, wines from these regions are really taking the industry by storm. This guide will definitely influence you to expand your palate and start drinking wines from all over the world. To start, stop into Red Rooster for a glass of Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa or a glass of Malbec from Argentina, and allow yourself to sip and transport to the southern region.

Purchase Wines of the Southern Hemisphere: The Complete Guide HERE 

Enjoy more wine 5 ways.

Take Time to Smell the Rosé

When thinking wine, the big question always seems to be “Red or White?”  Before you just blurt out a response in reflex, assess the situation.  What time of year is it?  Are you eating or just drinking?  If eating, what food are you in the mood for?

The answer to each of these questions gets you a little closer to the perfect wine for your situation, but there is a way to supersede the inquiry all together:  simply ask for a rosé.

The stigma about rosé as a spring and summer wine is purely dogmatic winery. Description:‘Connoisseurs’ that suggest this seasonal restriction have probably never tasted a good rosé during the winter for fear of breaking the ‘rules’ of wine that have no more to do with wine than manners have to the taste of the food.

The rosé is by far the most versatile wine on the market.  They are fantastic when summer is in full swing and just as refreshing during first and last snowfall.  The perfect medium between red and white, the rosé can be richly aromatic and powerfully textured like Château Jean Faux’s Bordeaux rosé or be clean, crisp, and refreshing as with Tavel’s Château de Trinquevedel .  They can be paired with anything from shellfish to pork to medium rare rib eye.  They augment the crisp freshness of a Waldorf salad and seem akin to oranges, apples, plums, pears and all the berries.

So if your response to the question, “red or white?” is going to be a reflex, do yourself a favor and ask for a rosé.  There is a great chance that you’ll like it with the food, without the food, in the summer, in the winter… simply whenever.

5 Affordable Sparkling Wines

Did you know that there are 49 million bubbles in one bottle of champagne? Perhaps, it’s just that which makes sparkling wines everyone’s light go-to drink during this warm time of year. Champagne and other sparkling wines are in fact a category of wine and that are typically derived from a blend of grapes such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier.

The difference between Champagne and other sparkling wines is that Champagne comes exclusively from the Champagne region of France and claims the honor of being the most famous of the sparkling wines. Technically, it is the only sparkling wine that may be referred to as “Champagne.” Bubbly from all other regions in the world are simply referred to as “sparkling wine,” “prosecco,” or “cava.” However, countries like Italy, Spain, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. can give France a run for the money by producing some fantastic sparkling wines and they are often less expensive.

Here is a list of our 5 Sparkling Wines that are delicious and affordable. They are the perfect buy this time of year whether you are going to a party as a guest or throwing a summer shindig of your own.

NV Canella Prosecco di Conegliano ($15)

This prosecco is from Veneto, Italy, an area that is among the foremost wine-producing regions and is known for both for quality and quantity. The region counts over 20 DOC zones and a variety of sub-categories. Many of its wines, both dry and Spumanti, are internationally known and appreciated. Fruity aromas of this sparkling wine are peach, apple, pear and citrus fruit like Meyer-lemons. The palate of this prosecco gracefully balances zingy acidity and a subtle hint of sweetness, richness and silky-smooth texture.

NV Ombra Rosé di Pinot ($16)

Pinot Noir gives this subtly strawberry-flavored rosé from Italy’s Veneto region its pretty ballerina-pink color. It’s rich aroma of toast and earthy scents paves way to a wonderfully fruity palate. It is very well balanced and structured and if you like pink Champagne, you will love this. It is a great value and this extra brut (very dry) wine goes very well with cold cuts, first courses, and roasted white meats.

NV Scharffenberger Brut ($19)

A blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, this California Brut is creamy and full-bodied with tropical flavors. Since this sparkling wine part Pinot Noir, it produces a red fruit forward nose (cherry and plum). The Chardonnay style adds citrus, anise, and creamy vanilla characters, producing a round and full-bodied wine. Pair this with a piece of Scharffenberger chocolate and you will have a California combination that will please your taste buds immensely!

Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad, Catalonia, Spain ($20)

This is a great sparkling wine to raise a glass and bring in the New Year with. After all, Cava is the name the Spanish give to their sparkling wines for get-togethers. This Cava is refreshingly dry and wild flower-scented. It is remarkably complex for its price.

Lucien Albrecht Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé NV, Alsace, France ($20)

More red than pink, this stunning sparkling wine comes from a 600-plus-year-old winery. It has an elegant strawberries-and-cream flavor as well as cherry notes. Without a doubt, the best value for money in non-Champagne French fizz comes from Alsace. Along with an earthy richness this sparkling wine has a fine citrus finish.

Take That France! : The Growing Popularity of Chinese Wine

By: Justin Chan

Are you ready to swap your Bordeaux for a Ningxia? A what, you may ask? According to a recent blind taste test of wine experts, it seems as though Bordeaux winemakers may have just met their East Asia!

Grape wine has a long but ambiguous history in China. Although it has become widely popular nowadays, it was a little-known beverage until globalization exposed millions of Chinese to its acetic and astringent flavor. Scholars say that the first documentation of westernized wine came as early as the 7th century, although evidence suggests that grape seeds were brought to China from what is now considered Uzbekistan during the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD). The large importation of grapes during these early years, however, did little to maintain the appeal of grape wine among the Chinese, and the beverage was soon replaced by alcoholic beverages made of millet, sorghum and rice.

It was not until the 19th century that wine became popular again in China. By then, the country had gone through several dynasties without seriously focusing on grape wine production or importation. In 1892, however, Zhang Bishi established the Yantai Changyu Pioneer Wine Company, planted vineyards and hired an Austrian winemaker to re-introduce grape wine to the public. He was one of several pioneers who profited from the wine business. Tsingtao, which was founded by the Anglo-German Brewery Co. Ltd., also benefited from the growing popularity of wine.

As wine became increasingly marketable in China, the Chinese began to favor producing it in bulk quantities rather than focus on improving its quality. In 1949, the government confiscated many wineries and operated them so that they could increase production. In most cases, the wines were incorrectly mixed with water, fermented cereals, coloring and sugar and tasted nothing like authentic wine. The shoddy tastes made it difficult for the West to embrace Chinese wine, and many were inclined to import wine elsewhere.

Today, the reputation of Chinese wines has drastically changed. While wines from regions such as Bordeaux still remain popular in China, domestic wines are gaining more and more attention at home and abroad. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, a mixed panel of experts compared wines from the Chinese province of Ningxia and those from Bordeaux. The 10 judges conducted a random taste test, and four of the top five favored wines came from Ningxia. The top-ranking wine was the 2009 Chairman's Reserve from China's Grace Vineyards, and the only Bordeaux wine to make the list was a 2009 Saga Medoc from the Barons de Rothschild Collection.

Undoubtedly, the recognition Ningxia wines have received lately marks a turning point in the history of Chinese grape wines. While some Chinese wines are still known for tasting horribly similar to medicine, others like those produced in Ningxia hope to attract all types of customers with their sophisticated flavors. As China's economy continues to grow, European and American wine industries may soon find themselves competing heavily against their East Asian counterpart.

Have you tried Chinese wine yet?

Photo: toyohara

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