Sizzle... sizzle... sizzle... we all know that wonderful sound of meat grilling on a hot barbecue. Whether beef, poultry, or seafood, nothing pairs better with Memorial Weekend than grilled meat on the barby. Except for a nice bottle of wine, of course!
If you happen to be barbecuing this weekend, and want some suggestions for pairing your food with a good Oregon wine, consider the following tips:
* Regardless of what you happen to be grilling, smoke flavoring from the barbecue will season your food, and make it difficult to pair with a softer wine. Try a spicier, full-bodied, "meaty" wine to pair with your food. Suggestions follow below.
* In particular, the smoke in your food can be balanced by wine that has been aged in oak barrels. The oak is always smoked (or "toasted") prior to holding the wine, which imparts a smokey or vanilla flavor to the wine. This can help offset the smoke in your grilled food.
* With the exception of Chardonnay, most white wines never see the inside of an oak barrel, and so do not contain any oak. On the other hand, most red wines, such as Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah, are all aged in oak.
* When pairing your wine with the food, consider the type of meat you are preparing. While the old adage of "red wine with red meat, white wine with white meat" doesn't always hold up to contemporary cuisine, with grilled food, it is generally a good idea. If you are grilling steak or hamburgers, consider a full-bodied red wine. If poultry, salmon, trout, or seafood, consider a white wine, such as Pinot Gris or a dry Riesling.
Wine Pairing Suggestions
Depending on the food you are preparing, the following wines should pair well. Red meats tend to show more smoke flavor, which is why richer red wines are offered as suggestions, while poultry, fish, and seafood are paired with lighter white wines.
* For steak and hamburgers, try Mediterranean varietals such as Syrah or Tempranillo, or more traditional Northwest varietals such as Merlot, Zinfandel, or Cabernet Sauvignon
* For salmon, steelhead and other trout, and other fish in general, try Pinot Gris, Dry Riesling, or Chardonnay.
* For pork chops, try Pinot Noir or Gamay Noir, or Italian varietals such as Sangiovese or Chianti.
* For chicken, turkey, and other poultry/game, try Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, or Müller Thurgau.
* For shrimp, clams, and other seafood, try Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or Sémillon.
These are but a few suggestions. It of course comes down to personal preference and taste. Whatever your palate may be, a barbecue is the perfect opportunity to enjoy your favorite Oregon wine.
This Memorial Day, take some time to enjoy yourself. Visit with family or friends, share some great food, and remember to raise a glass to honor our veterans and those currently serving this country. Without their service, we might not have the luxury to enjoy a great weekend like this.
All the best,