With June 21st now upon us, we can finally say that summer has arrived! While we may still be waiting in Nova Scotia for a string of 30 C days to to start working on our tans (and we will wait another month for that), there is no doubt that the nicer weather has meant that we are finally in BBQ season.
What isn't to love about BBQ? Whether you are firing up the grill for simple fare like hot dogs, sausages, chicken and burgers or channelling your inner gourmet with brisket, ribs or a NY Strip there is something about this cooking style that is reminiscent of summer, youthfulness, the outdoors and friends.
If you are like me, what you drink with your BBQ is just as important as what you are dropping on the grill and, while beer is often a safe route, an oenophile is going to need to pop a cork to make this meal work. So what is my "go to" when looking to combine charcoal, cheese, sauces and marinades? I love California Zinfandel, a lot. It denotes summer freshness, big fruit, alcohol and the outdoors and is truly made to pair with anything on the grill that has sauce. Why? Simple really. A few pairing basics can illustrate what I mean. "Salt loves sweet" is pairing 101. Don't believe me? Try chocolate covered pretzels or popcorn with M&M's tossed on top. It works! Also "spice is cooled by sweetness". Ever have a big red wine with Thai Food? Yeah, alcohol in the wine makes the dish even hotter which makes this pairing awful- unless you are going for inferno mouth and a good sweat for dinner. By contrast, a Moscato cools Thai Food and other spicy dishes the same way that a Zinfandel is going to give you that balancing effect if your sauce or rub tends on the spicy side. Zinfandel often shows dusty berries, smoky black fruit, spice, pepper and tannin or, put another way, flavor profiles that enhance most foods coming off your BBQ.
Looking for ideas on great Zins? We think Four Vines Zinfandel and Three Wine Company Old Vines Zinfandel are two great examples of this, primarily, Californian wine. The 4 Vines is all about big berry and pepper while the Three Wine Zin shows us blackberry and cherries with firm tannin. They are both staples in our house as we settle in for our beautiful, albeit short, summer.