Grilling is one of America’s greatest pastimes, and if you love grilled meat, chances are you also like hosting meals for family and friends to show off your pit master prowess. Once you’ve mastered the art of the char, why not take it a step further? Serve wine that blows the lid off the meal, in the best possible way.
The right wine pairing makes all the difference. The aroma and flavor of wines can highlight and enhance the taste of grilled food like no other beverage. And the good news is, it’s not rocket science. Choosing wine depends mostly on what you’re grilling, and how you’re dressing it up — what kind of sauce or rubs you’re using.
Here’s a handy guide to wine pairings to take your event to the next level.
Mix it up
If you’re serving a mix of grilled foods, including pork or barbecued chicken or turkey along with burgers and steaks, you’ll want to choose a versatile wine that pairs well with a variety of different types of meat and poultry. Since many pork recipes use sweet and tangy sauces, wine with a fruitier flavor may be just the ticket, like red zinfandel or a bourbon barrel aged wine. You may even want to add a little of the wine to the sauce.
The Federalist Bourbon Barrel-aged Zinfandel embraces the uniquely American tradition of aging wine in charred bourbon barrels. The result is a fruity, spicy wine with dark cherry and cola notes, making the wine a great choice to pair with chicken or turkey marinated in barbecue sauce or grilled smoked sausages. For a stronger tannin structure and cleansing acidity that pairs exceptionally well with steak, a Lodi sourced zinfandel adds some zing to balance spicy, smoky flavors from your grill or smoker.
Lighten it up
When you’re grilling lighter fare like turkey, fish or chicken, or if you're entertaining vegetarian or vegan friends, choose a white wine to enhance and match those delicate flavors and textures. Heavier barbecued meats and stronger flavors can easily overwhelm a lighter white wine, but a crisp chardonnay pairs very well with these foods. Chardonnay pairs perfectly with veggie burgers and grilled vegetables, turkey, chicken, and several types of fattier fish such as salmon, trout, tuna or rockfish. You can even serve it with Cornish game hen if you’re feeling fancy.
Bold barbecue needs bold wine
When you’re grilling cuts of beef like brisket, tenderloin, a juicy steak or ribs and using potent spices and flavors like classic Kansas City or Memphis-style barbecue sauce, cabernet sauvignon is a great choice to balance those intense flavors.
For example, within The Federalist’s portfolio of wines celebrating America’s heritage, The Federalist Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon is a medium weight red wine with a good grip from tannins, in wine speak — and what does that mean? It means the flavor and body of the wine is strong enough to hold up to the bold, smoky and spicy flavors of your meat. You can also serve it with game like venison or roasted and smoked vegetables. This wine has an aroma of berries, tart cherries, sweet oak and cinnamon, along with a delicious flavor that will wow your meat-loving guests.
Another popular choice to serve with grilled meats like a flank steak is The Federalist Honest Red Blend, combining 53% merlot grapes with 30% zinfandel and 15% cabernet sauvignon. It marries the flavor of dark fruits with some spiciness and a rich, round mouthfeel. You can’t go wrong serving a bold red wine with grilled red meat, as the high-fat content in the meat is balanced by the strong tannins present in red wine.
Tap into these tips to help you select the right flavor balance to show off your grilling skills. Check out @FederalistWines on Instagram to learn more.