Spring has arrived in Asheville, and it’s time to wake your grill up from its winter hibernation. There’s something very primal about cooking over an open fire, and the flavors that grilling adds to meats and vegetables calls for a certain type of wine………generally of the red category! Here’s your foolproof guide to making sure that you pick the right wine to go with your steak, barbecued chicken or ribs, or for the vegetarian and vegan set, vegetables.
The quintessential, fool proof wine for grilling red meat is Red Zinfandel. It’s rich, bold and spicy flavors really compliment beefy flavors. If you’re looking for a great value, try Marietta’s Old Vine Red which is always a Zin-heavy blend with smaller amounts of Petite Sirah, Barbera and several other grapes. There’s always Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec, but those have been done a million times, and both work really well, but it’s fun to be more adventurous. Try a Tempranillo-based wine, specifically from Spain’s Ribera del Duero zone. One of my favorites is from Federico, a small producer whose wine is loaded with rich black cherry and blackberry fruit and a subtle peppery nuance. Season your beef liberally with black pepper and get ready for a flavor explosion.
If barbecue sauce is on the menu, whether it’s slathered on chicken or pork, there are a number of great wine pairings, but one of my favorites is a rich, spicy, sweetly fruited Spanish red. Try the Montsant from Mas Donis for a wonderful wine and food experience. The wine blends Garnacha with Syrah to create a jammy, fully fruited, peppery red wine that just loves bbq. Even better, it can be found for around $15 at small wine shops around Asheville. Another good pick would be a richer, fuller bodied California Pinot Noir. Try the Pinot from Banshee, as it blends fruit from top sites in Sonoma County to create a wine bursting with ripe cherry, strawberry and vanilla notes.
If meat isn’t your thing, that’s ok, as grilled mushrooms and vegetables are absolutely delicious on the grill. For earthy, grilled portobellos, try marinating them in olive oil, balsamic and herbs and pair with a fruity, juicy Beajolais. I love the one from Jean-Paul Brun, as it has lovely notes of ripe red cherry along with subtle earthy notes. For grilled peppers or green veggies, a white wine is typically the way to go. A New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, with its tangy, grapefruit and lime notes is a sure bet. Try the one made by Spy Valley out of Marlborough, New Zealand. Of course, at the end of the day, you should always drink whatever you like with whatever you like to eat, but if you want the flavors of your grilled dishes to be harmonious with the flavors of your wine, it’s a good idea to stick to these general guidelines. Happy grilling, happy eating and happy drinking in Asheville this spring!