Summer In A Bottle: The Right Wines to Drink During Grill Season

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Checking the temperature of a rack of Berkshire Pork on rotisserie. Quite the way to break in a new gas grill.

This past Memorial Day, Deb and I personally assembled our brand-new backyard gas grill, and have since been working our way through the first tank-full of propane. As we slip into mid-summer, we have much to report on the grilled goodies front. Those recipes will slowly be revealed throughout the rest of the season; for now, I’d like to catch you up on what we’ve been enjoying in the grill-friendly wines department. Just a hint….it’s not what you might expect.

A Little Philosophy

From grilled veggies to bison burgers to rack of pork, our summer wine pairing choices have turned out to be only half-conventional. Looking back over our picks, they collectively resemble a quirky combination of the styles featured at our recent Anchin, Block & Anchin Wine & Food Tutorial, and some improvised, spur-of-the-moment selections that I wouldn’t entirely classify as “summer-ish”. In the case of the latter, Deb’s illustrious mantra about “experiments never failing” applied fittingly, emphasizing how tricky it can be to perfectly coordinate wine, cuisine, weather and setting. And seeing as we are in a minority in attempting to orchestrate culinary perfection each time we sit down at a meal, we decided to grant ourselves a little mercy….a license of sorts to approach the process with slightly less science, and a tad more gut instinct. The results, while far from perfect, were always delicious!

And About Those Wines…

Grilled American Lamb “Lollipop” Chops and Sautéed Baby Spinach with Garlic and Minced Fennel Seed, by the lake, with mature Crozes-Hermitage. The meaning of life!

Grilled American Lamb “Lollipop” Chops and Sautéed Baby Spinach with Garlic and Minced Fennel Seed, by the lake, with mature Crozes-Hermitage. The meaning of life!

In both the conventional and unconventional camps, there were some standout wine favorites. Some garnered attention for their general grill-friendly personalities, and others for their inherent merits regardless of how appropriate they were alongside our backyard fare. Consider the following selections, hand-chosen from our vast and fertile wine distribution market by our strategic partner Suburban Wines & Spirits (click on the links to purchase). They are outfitted to ship right to your door, typically with only 24-hours’ notice in the NY metro area and suburbs. Then, plan your gathering, fire up your grill, and enjoy some lazy, hazy, crazy of your own!

Naveran Cava “Dama” 2012, Penedes, Spain ($21)

Catalonian sparkling wine has seen a sharp increase in quality and character during the beginning of the 21st century. Now we have access to estate-grown examples like the uncompromising Dama. Blending the traditional Parellada with the international Chardonnay, there is a fullness and complexity to this Cava that makes the flavors of your grilled goodies “pop”. At half the price of a starter Champagne, you’ll be drinking like royalty, guilt-free.

Domaine Gerovassiliou Estate White 2012, Epanomi, Greece ($24)

domaine-gerovassiliou-epanomi-white-6-bottle-caseFrom a sustainable estate in the mainland region of Epanomi, this exotically-perfumed white has plenty to lend to your summer grill gatherings. Blending the structured and sublime Assyrtiko variety with the flashy and fragrant Malagousia, the wine is a profound achievement. The bouquet is alive with guava, pineapple and melon, while a tense backbone of mineral and acid balance out its raciness. Just perfect! Be warned: your guests will want you to acquire them some.

Domaine La Blaque Rosé Pierrevert 2013, Provence, France ($17)

We’ve been featuring this dry rosé at recent events, and it turns out to be the eye-opening favorite each time. The Pierrevert section of Provence is famous for adding Vermentino….a white variety, to the traditional rosé blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah. La Blaque is no exception, and is a sturdier, more mouth-filling rosé as a result. Give it a medium chill and enjoy with grilled chicken.

Domaine de la Chapelle des Bois Chiroubles 2012, Beaujolais, France ($19)

When you need a go-to summertime red wine category, think Beaujolais. But not just any Beaujolais; make it a “cru” wine. Chapelle des Bois from the Chiroubles cru fits that description with true accolade. The ’12 is a knockout example of the Gamay variety in all its nuanced splendor. Give it a slight chill, and observe as fruity, gamey and herbal all play nicely together.

Perusini Refosco dal Penduncolo Rosso 2009, Friuli, Italy ($29)Perusini Refosco

Unconventional for summer consumption? Perhaps. But if the weather is not super muggy, sipping this rustic and sturdy Refosco will give your chops, steaks or burgers a gourmet feel. Arguably the ultimate food wines in any season, well-made, old-world Friulian reds like this are a wonder to behold.

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