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In the heat of summer, it is great to get out from behind the stove and out to the grill. Don’t forget to bring wine as you move outside. Let’s talk about some of our favorite summer foods and how to pair wines to them. Now, it is traditional to pair foods from a region with wines from the same area, but let’s look a bit simpler. We want to either pair opposing flavors to contrast flavors or pair similar flavors to draw attention to them.
For a classic summer meal of grilled chicken, potato salad, and asparagus, there are many great pairings. With this meal a classic choice would be a chardonnay (or locally, a Chardonel) with enough smoky oak to balance the char on the meat and some buttery notes to tie in to our sides. To go the other direction, a fruit driven, slightly sweet wine, such as a riesling (or locally, a Vignoles), would provide contrast to showcase the smoky, spicy flavors that make barbecue great.
If that last meal sounded a little light, next let us consider some heavier fare. Brisket with baked beans and corn is certainly a common sight here in the Midwest. With this meal we have big, bold flavors to work with; it can be meaty, smoky, spicy and sweet all at the same time. Since the flavor profile is so big and spicy, a big spicy wine, such as an Australian Shiraz (or Missouri Norton), is a great choice to stand up to the big flavors presented in this meal. Now, some folks save sweeter wines for dessert, but with a rich, fatty brisket some sweetness can help smooth over some spice and balance with the richness of the meat. I suggest grabbing a glass of a sweet red next time you have barbecue brisket to try something a little different.
Peach cobbler is certainly a common summer dessert and a delicious one at that. Try pairing this summer delicacy with moscato to draw peachy flavors in the glass. Alternately, try a dry sparkling wine, such as Champagne, to offset the sweetness and add acidity and freshness to the palate. Remember, wine pairing should be fun, so try something new this summer!
My name is Austin Gacich, and I am the manager of the tasting room at Les Bourgeois Vineyards. My love of delicious things leads me to try new things in my kitchen and in my glass. Normally, you can find me behind the bar in our tasting room, but I spend my days off hiking with my wife and dog.