If you’re like most wine lovers, you probably know some basic tips for pairing food and wine, such as red wine with red meat and white wine with fish. However, most people don’t know how to skillfully pair wine with summer dishes.
The following are six foods often served in summer and a number of wine pairing options that have been tested by foodies and chefs.
As you think of ways to make the most of grilling season, don’t forget to incorporate shrimp into your summer meals. One of the best ways to complement your charred shrimp skewers is with a Chardonnay, especially one with an oak flavor. You might also try a French-style Rosé if you are preparing your shrimp with roasty, strong flavors.
Alternatively, if you are serving your shrimp with a spicy sauce, such as an Asian sauce for dipping, try an off-dry white wine such as a semisweet Riesling or a Chenin Blanc. The latter is a French wine that features delicious fruit flavors, which go well with shrimp served with spicy or tropical flavors.
Summer cuisine wouldn’t be the same without burgers on the grill, but some people don’t know that burgers don’t always have to go with beer. The right wine can bring out more flavors in your burger. For example, you might pair your burgers this summer with Rioja, a famous red wine from the region of the same name in the north of Spain. Rioja’s acidity, tannic structure, and fruit flavors go well with burgers, especially if you top them with tomatoes or ketchup.
Another wine that pairs nicely with burgers is Lambrusco, a sparkling red wine from Italy. The bubbles and acid from Lambrusco serve to cleanse your palate from the fat in the burger.
When you make a light lemon pasta with tomatoes and basil in summer, few wines go better than a Prosecco, a sparkling white wine from Veneto, Italy. Alternatively, you might serve a lemon pasta with Ulacia Txakolina, a sparkling white wine made in the Basque country of northern Spain. This dry light wine pairs well with a pasta featuring lemon zest, parmesan cheese, and tomatoes.
Another summer favorite dish is grilled chicken, which can be consumed with a number of wines, including one lesser-known option called Frappato. With strawberry and basil flavors, the Sicily-born Frappato pairs perfectly with a plate of charred chicken. If you can’t find Frappato, try other chilled red wines or a wine aged in new oak barrels, such as Pinot Noirs from California or Chardonnays. On the other hand, if you prepare your chicken by rubbing it with herbs, like rosemary, try pairing it with a rosé or a Garnacha from Spain.
Before you fire up your grill to prepare some juicy steak, get yourself a bottle of Carménère. Chile’s signature wine, Carménère is a red wine with red cherry and violet flavors. If you can’t find it, you can use other red wines such as Cabernet from Napa Valley, California, or Cabernet blends from Walla Walla, Washington. Another great option for steak is Malbec, a rich, early red wine that comes from Argentina. Rounding out the red wines that go well with steak is Zinfandel, which tends to pair well with sweet spices or chili sauce.
A summer seafood menu wouldn’t be complete without oysters, which can be paired with a variety of white wines, including Muscadet. A dry French white wine, Muscadet hails from the Loire Valley near the Atlantic Ocean and comes from Melon de Bourgogne grapes. In keeping with French wines, you can’t go wrong if you serve your oysters with Champagne, especially a Brut Blanc de Blancs.
Oysters also pair well with Spanish wines, especially Fino Sherry from Jerez de la Frontera in Spain. Although it’s a fortified wine, Fino Sherry has only about 15 percent alcohol by volume and is the driest of all wines in the Sherry category. Another Spanish wine, yet less well known, is Albariño, a white wine from Galicia in northwest Spain. Albariño is salty and effervescent and pairs well not only with oysters but also with anything you serve on a raw bar.
Although your summer menu will undoubtedly be more diverse than this, the above are some tried-and-true pairing options for summer dishes. As you search for other wines that pair well with these foods, look for wines that have similar structure and acidity, which are often key factors in whether a wine is a good fit for summer cuisine. With a little research, you can impress your guests with the perfect wine pairing no matter what you’re serving on your patio this summer.