Summer grilling rules – The Lima News

Summer grilling rules - The Lima News

For seasonal food and wine perfection, few things can top a cookout. My favorite grill experience was at a tiny remote cottage with no electricity in Uruguay, the vacation retreat of Argentina celeb chef Francis Mallmann, who popularized traditional open-flame techniques internationally.

Everything we ate was cooked on a hand-forged grill over a sparking fire surrounded by stones. Under a dark sky sprinkled with stars, at a table lit by candles of all sizes, we savored thick-crusted, sizzling steaks with tiny grilled potatoes and accompaniments all kissed with char. Later, Mallmann read from poetry books pulled from piles stacked precariously around the house. Naturally, there were reds and whites to match the mood, the weather, the food, the poems.

This summer I don’t expect to match his skill, but I will be grilling everything — steak, chicken, salmon, asparagus, fresh corn, firm peaches at the peak of ripeness, and even endive and lettuce. If you plan to as well, let the enticing, slightly bitter, and salty taste that smoke lends to the underlying flavors of grilled foods should tune your choice of what to drink.

There are no-fail wines that go great with a grilled meal. If your local store doesn’t stock them, heed the following wine-pairing tips culled from my own experiences as well as from the expertise of Jordan Mackay, wine writer and co-author with Texas barbecue guru Aaron Franklin of the bestselling Franklin Barbecue and Franklin Steak, and the upcoming Franklin Smoke.

Don’t pick wines that are too subtle or shy in flavor. This is Mackay’s biggest no-no. The robust flavor that grilling adds needs equally bold wines. By which he means concentrated and with personality, but not heavy or high in alcohol. The nuances of a complex wine will be lost. Ditto whites, in my opinion, which is why none appear on my list below.

Opt for low-oak wines. You might think the no-brainer match would be seriously oaky wines with similar smoky overtones. Not the case, Mackay says, and I heartily concur. Instead of blending together, the smoky char makes the oak in wine stand out but not in a good way.

Consider the meat, the rub, and the sauce. Char-grilled steaks need a bold red with some tannin to break down the meat’s fat. succulent pork ribs with a deep, sweet, tangy barbecue sauce or a spice-and-vinegar-rubbed chicken are best with a lively, high-acid, low-tannin red that can be chilled; pinot noir is a good choice.

Yes, rose is an all-purpose winner. Like me, Mackay is “a bit bored” with those ubiquitous light pink wines that taste the same. Instead he suggests darker, richer examples with more fruit and character to counter the smokiness. They’ll be delicious with salmon and especially with vegetables such as zucchini.

Bubbles go with almost everything, except red meat. Drinking bubbly with barbecued chicken at the beach is a peak wine and food experience. The combination of fizz and bright acidity counterbalance salty, spicy, sweet, and smoky flavors.


2020 Fattoria le Pupille Morellino di Scansano ($23)With tangy cherry and cinnamon flavors, this gulpable, easygoing Italian red is made from mostly sangiovese grapes. Think cheeseburgers, veggie burgers, and mustard-coated chicken breasts.

2021 Las Jaras Glou Glou ($28)Light-bodied and refreshing but intensely flavored, this chillable organic red from Mendocino is a perfect burger and hot dog wine. It has enough acidity for barbecue, too.


2021 Chacra Nacha Pinot Noir Rosé ($24)Dry, fresh, rosés with fruity spice and tart acidity stand up to char, sweet marinades, and barbecue sauce better than you’d think. This one is from a biodynamic vineyard in Patagonia.

2021 Château Pradeaux Bandol Rosé ($28)If you must have a pink wine from Provence, go for this rich, full-bodied, floral-scented option from an estate on the Mediterranean. Try it with herb-rubbed lamb or chicken.


NV Domaine Chandon Brut Rosé ($17)Bright and light, with notes of red fruit, this widely available California sparkler is delicious with juicy grilled burgers and sausages. It’s also available in aluminum mini bottles by the case from the winery.

2019 Llopart Rosé Brut Reserva Corpinnat ($25) Rosé fizz is my favorite pairing with Buffalo chicken wings, garlicky grilled shrimp, even grilled halloumi cheese. This crisp-textured sparkler comes from an organic Spanish producer.

For a cookout, the robust flavor from grilling needs equally bold wines that are concentrated and with personality, but not heavy or high in alcohol.

Never bring white wine to a cookout

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