Beer is the go-to backyard beverage when the barbecue gets fired up, but wine is a match for anything that bears grill marks.
1. Barbecue Chicken: A juicy red with plush fruit and light tannins will be a gentle partner to the bold, tangy sauce and smoky grilled chicken.
Try a primitivo blend from southern Italy. Known as the Italian version of zinfandel, primitivo has the same lush fruit and spice as its California cousin but is often more food-friendly. The roasted fruit character will play well with the spicy-sweet barbecue sauce and hint of smoke from the grill.
2. Cedar-Plank Salmon: Cedar-Plank Salmon is rich in healthy fat, so it needs an equally rich wine. The fish oil coats your mouth, so it works like a charm with buttery chardonnay. Avoid over-oaked bottles.
3. Burgers: Burgers are not steak, so resist the temptation to reach for a colossal, in-your-face California cabernet or Left Bank Bordeaux that overwhelms or overcomplicates. Instead, a bright and juicy red, such as a Malbec, complements the burger’s beefiness, as well as any veggies that are likely part of the equation.
4. Grilled Pork Chops: Grilled pork chops should be juicy, especially if they’re brined before cooking. This meat can stand up to a red wine of some substance and tannin.
5. Side salads and grilled vegetables: As a general rule, match rosés, tart whites, and lighter reds like pinot noir with salads and veggies. And when in doubt, reach for a sparkling wine, because like salad itself, bubbly is light, refreshing, and infinitely satisfying on a summer evening.