Vines & Vittles: Favorite grills with paired wines | Vines and vittles
My wife can really transform a sentence. She claims that I avoid work as if it were a “four letter” word.
I do admit, however, that there are certain tasks – like cleaning the garage or doing the dishes – that I don’t readily seek out. But give me something to cook and I am a diligent, energetic and enthusiastic worker; give me something to grill and I’m in nirvana!
And since the upcoming Memorial Day weekend is the official kickoff to summer, that means we’ll be enjoying our alfresco dining more. It also means that I can use my grill more frequently and this is the type of job that I really enjoy.
Over the years, I have espoused the virtues of charcoal on gas grills, but whatever your preference, nothing beats the flavor of outdoor cooking. Whether you’re searing a piece of red meat, slowly roasting a rack of baby back, or smoking a salmon fillet, cooking enhances the flavor of almost any food, even vegetables. And there are a myriad of wine choices to go with the dishes we enjoy this time of year.
Here are some of my favorite hot dishes on the grill and wines that I think will go particularly well with them.
I like to cut a few slices of bacon into small pieces and add them to a pound and a half of chopped chuck. After squeezing them into quarter-pound burgers, I shake a generous portion of McCormick’s Montreal Grillmates Seasoning over them before placing them on the grill. Try pairing the burgers with zinfandel from producers like Frank Family, Edmeades, or Dry Creek. These Californian zins are all medium-bodied wines with delicious black fruit flavors that will accentuate the beefy goodness of the bacon burgers.
Hot dogs and sausages
I am a proponent of dividing my dogs and sausages over long distances in order to get as many grilled and crispy meat surfaces. The salty and spicy character of these hearty tubular steaks makes them a perfect pairing with refreshing, thirst-quenching dry rosés from producers like Elizabeth Spenser (California), Domaine Tempier Bandol Rose (France) and Mulderbosch Rose of Cabernet Sauvignon (South Africa).
Entrecote or entrecote
Nothing pleases me more hedonistically than the perfectly grilled steak. I will have my beef supplier cut my steak into pieces an inch and a half thick, then I will rub them with a clove of garlic, kosher salt, coarsely ground black pepper and olive oil. olive before placing the meat on the grill and cook them until they are medium rare. No wine is more suitable to accompany this beautiful grilled meat than Cabernet Sauvignon, especially those from northern California. Here are some of my favorite labels: Provenance, Franciscan, Shaffer, Alexander Valley Vineyards, Silver Oak, Heitz, St. Supery and Clos Du Val.
As an accompaniment to any meat or fish dish or as a stand-alone meal, you should try grilling vegetables. You can use any combination of the following: pieces of red and yellow peppers lengthwise; peeled and sliced zucchini and yellow squash; a large onion cut into quarter-inch circles; asparagus stalks; hot banana peppers, sliced lengthwise; a sliced fennel bulb; a head of radicchio cut in half; and Portobello mushrooms cut in half. Prepare a marinade of extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and basil. Mix and then immerse the vegetables in the marinade for about an hour before grilling them. Serve grilled vegetables with Sauvignon Blanc from La Crema and St. Supery (California) or Whitehaven and Kim Crawford (New Zealand).
I love myself salmon on the grill! Brush two eight-ounce skinless salmon fillets (or a whole side of salmon) with a frosting consisting of chopped garlic and jalapeño peppers, soy sauce, honey, cumin and olive oil. Brush before grilling, then again when flipping salmon. Salmon loves smoke and just loves sweetness and heat. The perfect wine to accompany this dish is Pinot Noir. Try one of these beauties: Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve and Lange Estate (Oregon); Melville Santa Rita Hills, Domaine Carneros and Etude (California).
Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend and great summer grilling!
In addition to being a connoisseur of wine and food, John Brown is also a novelist. His latest book is “Augie’s World”, a sequel to his first novel, “Augie’s War”. You can read more about his novels at wordsbyjohnbrown.com.