The Grape and the Grill - Summer Wine Pairings and Recipes

For many of us summer time means cooking on the grill. Human beings are hard-wired to get satisfaction from the combination of flame and food and summer is the perfect season to scratch that itch.


When you bring the kitchen outside, do not forget the wine cellar. Scientists figure that we can experience about 150 different flavor sensations. Wine made from grapes can trigger almost all of them, more than any other single food or beverage. What that means is that by adding any number of the wines of the world to the grilling menu you can turn an enjoyable experience into a memorable one...a little something you to remember in the middle of February.

You do not need an elaborate wine cooling system for outdoor dining but you do need to keep wine out of the sun, and if possible, try to keep it at wine-cellar-cool, around 55 degrees F.

Matching wine with food is more of an art than a science but there are some reliable guidelines that you can use to narrow your focus.

Heavy dishes, foods you chew hard with strong tastes, match up with full-bodied wines. Full-bodied usually means the reds but whites like Italian Malvasia and oaked California Chardonnay can also fill the bill.

Sweet dishes require sweet wines. This is really more of a rule than a guideline. Even an excellent dry wine paired with a sweet dish can create a sour or bitter taste.

Fatty dishes usually pair well with wines high in acidity like the Rieslings, Sauvignon Blancs and most sparkling wine.

Protein-rich dishes often match-up well with high tannin wines. The big reds are the usually the choice here with the Cabernets and Syrah at the top of the list. High tannin wines usually do not pair well with fish and other seafood or with salty dishes.

RECIPES: Here are a few wine-grill combinations that food editors have found particularly alluring. 

Shrimp skewers: 
Shrimp marinated in olive oil, lime juice, onion, garlic and rosemary, skewered and briefly grilled.
Wine: 
Pinot Grigio: light and crisp and fruity, with mild flavors of citrus and peaches.


Chicken legs:
Marinated in oil and hot pepper sauce.
Wine: 
Shiraz: soft and rich, with red berry flavors and the sweetness to go with the spice

Barbecued ribs: 
Grilled slowly and indirectly for hours, slathered with spicy, tomato-and-molasses-based sauce in the final minutes so it doesn't burn.
Wine: 
Syrah: Zingy, rich and spicy, with black plum flavors and the sweetness to match the ribs.


Pork chops: 
Butterfly them so they'll cook through, marinate in oil and sage, and grill..
Wine: 
Riesling: soft and lightly sweet, with golden apple and peach flavors and a little hint of citrus.

New York strip steak: 
Marinate in garlic, olive oil and rosemary, crust it on the outside, red in the middle. For an extra special treat place the meat directly on white-hot charcoal. 
Wine: 
Cabernet Sauvignon: Big oak, big black cherry fruit, big tannins; a real steak wine.

Salmon: Marinate in soy sauce and a hint of oil, brush with maple syrup just before the grill.
Wine: Grenache, Mourvdre, Syrah, Zinfandel: hugely rich and fruity, with moderate tannin.


Turkey breast with grilled vegetable chutney: 
Marinate breast in oil and Cajun spices. For the chutney, slice up onions, eggplant, and red and green bell peppers, marinate in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, grill briefly and chunk up into chutney.
Wine: 
Chardonnay: a nice hint of oak to go with the grilling flavors.

Peaches, pears, pineapples, bananas: 
Brush them with a hint of oil. The caramelization produces a memorable flavor.
Wine: 
Ménage a Trois Rosé: Lots of strawberry and light cherry flavors, just sweet enough to match the grilled fruit. Also makes a great basket picnic wine.



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