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Wines For Whatever You’re Serving Guests At The Barbecue

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By TOM MARQUARDT and PATRICK DARR

Nothing excites the senses more than a Sunday afternoon behind the grill. Many people enjoy year-round grilling temperatures, but others are trapped indoors and too timid to brave the elements for a grilled steak. But with Memorial Day behind us, barbecue season is officially underway.

A sizzling burger over fire puts us in a summer mood. It is the ideal time to invite friends and family over to the house for an outdoor meal.  Serve a rosé or a prosecco as you fire up the grill and invite guests to help plate the meal.

While stews and chili are the fare for winter meals, lighter fare such as fish and grilled vegetables make more sense in warmer months. The goal is to keep it simple and fresh.

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https://www.vecteezy.com/photo/42679970-delicious-food-spread-on-wooden-table-with-glass-of-wineChoosing a wine to go with your entree shifts in warmer months just as much as the food.  Cabernet sauvignon is good for beef and lamb, but most grilled foods call for lighter wines. A ketchup-based sauce on that pulled pork or ribs calls for something fruity – merlot, syrah, and especially zinfandel. Keep it simple if burgers are the choice: beaujolais, valpollicella, or chianti

An elegant dinner of duck, salmon or tuna allows you to explore a serious pinot noir. Although often pricey, pinot noir has the heft to complement many entrees with red-based sauces. Ketchup and tomatoes are usually a part of barbecue sauces, so lighter red wines do well.

Whitefish opens the door to many choices, chardonnay being our favorite. Any sauce with citrus as a base calls for sauvignon blanc or pinot gris.

We like rosé with grilled chicken because it is so fruity and adaptable to many sauces. Sauvignon blanc works well here, too, but don’t forget the white wines from Portugal, Italy and Spain for adventure and variety. Try a vinho verde from Portugal, an albarino or verdejo from Spain, or soave or gavi from Italy. Any of these are great sipping wines but can join a plate of fresh vegetables or cheese.

Here are 12 suggested wines – many good values — to officially launch barbecue season:

Rombauer California Zinfandel 2021 (Rombauer)

Domaine Bousquet Premium Organic Malbec 2022 ($13). Using fruit from the Uco Valley, this malbec has the right amount of juiciness to complement marbled beef and other grilled fare. Red berry aromas and soft tannins make it an easy drink. This producer makes some of the best value-driven wines. Great with beef.

Rombauer California Zinfandel 2021 ($38). The dash of petite sirah in this wine gives it more heft and color. Juicy and ripe blackberry notes with a dollop of clove and vanilla.  Think ribs, burgers and pizza.

Domaine Bousquet Cabernet Sauvignon 2022 ($13).  For the price, you get a lot of juicy and ripe red berry flavors and supple tannins to make this a decent match with grilled beef.  Tasted blind, this wine has gotten a lot of accolades in our circle.

Lyric Monterey County Pinot Noir 2022 ($20).  We thought it was impossible to find a good pinot noir under $50, but this one proves us wrong.  Bright red berry flavors, medium body and a smooth finish. It would do well alongside grilled veggies and simple entrees such as burgers, salmon and pork.

Orin Swift Cellars Abstract 2022 ($45).  This beautiful blend of grenache, syrah and petite syrah is an ideal match with almost any grilled meat or barbecue sauce.

Orin Swift 8 Years in the Desert 2022 ($53).  Ripe tannins and oodles of sweet blackberries and spice make this a delicious yet serious wine to pair with beef.

J. Lohr Estates South Ridge Syrah 2022 ($15). Ripe blackberry compote with notes of black cherries and spice, this syrah has a seductive mouthfeel. Perfect for pasta, meats, ribs and pizza.

J. Lohr Estates Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon 2021 ($17). Another great value from J. Lohr, this wine has plum, black currant and cassis notes.

Quinta do Vesuvio Comboio do Vesuvio DOC 2020 (Vivino)

Quinta do Vesuvio Comboio do Vesuvio DOC 2020 ($25). Some of the best values in wine today come from Portugal. The train on the label recognizes the track that runs alongside this vineyard. Its constant rumble obviously doesn’t disturb the vines. It is an almost equal share of touriga franca, touriga nacional and tinta roriz grapes. It is not aged in oak, which makes this fruit-forward quaff easy to drink alongside everyday fare.  Youthful strawberry aromas with ripe plum and cherry flavors with a hint of clove and ripe tannins. This is a versatile wine that would do well with meats, pasta, tuna and just by itself.

Marco Felluga Mongris Collo Pinot Grigio DOC 022 ($21). With grapes grown in mineral-rich but poor soils in the Collio region of Italy, this pinot gris has bright and fresh floral aromas with apple and pear flavors. Think fish, poultry and aperitif.

Berona Crianza 2019 ($15).  We have seen this wine on many restaurant lists and it is a good value.  Bright and simple red berry notes with a dash of tobacco and vanilla.

Tenuta Whitaker Mozia Grillo Sicilia DOC 2022 ($25). We like grillo as an alternative to pinot grigio and even chardonnay.  It has good acidity, pure fruit character with stone fruit and apple notes accented with minerality.

Wine picks

Inama Carmenere Piu IGT 2021 (Vivino)

Inama Carmenere Piu IGT 2021 ($22). A blend of carmenere and merlot, this wine from the Veneto region of northeastern Italy has a broad range of red and dark fruit flavors, a medium body. It is easy to drink alongside a nice steak.

Chappellet Signature Chenin Blanc 2023 ($75). We don’t think we have ever tasted a California chenin blanc this good. This site on Pritchard Hill has been producing chenin blanc before Donn and Molly Chappellet purchased the property the late 1960s and has become an institution as several winemakers have passed through here. Delicious is a word that doesn’t do it justice. Fermented in French oak barrels and stainless-steel tanks, it has a strong personality with effusive pear and apple aromas and melon, citrus flavors.

Papapietro Perry Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2021 ($61). This pinot noir from wind-swept Sonoma Coast exudes hedonistic pleasure. Raspberry and floral aromas are followed by vibrant black cherry and plum flavors.

Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr, MoreAboutWine, posted on SouthFloridaReporter.com
Republished with permission
Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr have been writing a weekly wine column for more than 30 years. Additional Wine reviews on MoreAboutWine
All photos are randomly selected and do not indicate any preferred wine. Listed prices are subject to change and do not include tax or shipping.
You can send questions to Tom Marquardt marq1948@gmail.com Always drink responsibly
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Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr have been writing a wine column since 1985. They have traveled extensively to vineyards in France, Spain, Italy, Greece and the United States. Tom currently resides in Naples with his wife, Sue, where he conducts wine tastings. His web site is MoreAboutWine.com. Patrick is in the wine retail business in Annapolis, MD.