While ice-cold beer belongs at every barbecue, you’re going to have a disappointed crowd at your summer cookout if you leave behind the wine. You can play it safe with a cab or chilled chardonnay—or you can heed the brave advice from these wine country experts.
Expert: Brian Bakesman, Summit Lake Vineyards winemaker and Partner at Red Thread Wine Company.
If you're eating: Mango, avocado, salsa, and chicken tacos.
Pair it with a white like: 2013 Verse and Chorus, Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc .
“This ripe Sauvignon Blanc, with brisk acidity and tangy minerality, should be served cold on a hot day. The flavors of lemon grass, peach, and mango compliment the dish beautifully. The acidity of the lime and pronunciation of garlic is nicely cut on your palate by this complex and textured Sauvignon Blanc.”
If you're eating: Sautéed Chanterelle Mushrooms and pasta.
Pair it with a red like: 2012 Weather, Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.
“My philosophy when pairing foods with Pinot Noirs is simple: fresh ingredients are best. Don’t overpower the wonderful nuances of your wine, support them with flavors, in this case the earthiness of the mushrooms and subtlety of the pasta. The 2012 Weather is an incredibly food friendly wine and releases this summer.”
Expert: Janet Viader, Viader winery
If your're eating: BBQ Pulled Pork.
Pair it with a white like: 2010 Stony Hill Vineyard Gewürtraminer
“I love just about anything spicy, and tend to prefer some heat instead of sweetness in my BBQ sauce. Sometimes it is difficult to find a red wine to compete with the spice, so I often look to off-dry whites. For example, for a spicy BBQ pulled pork, I would pop open the 2010 Stony Hill Vineyard Gewurtraminer, enjoy the citrus and floral aromas, and let the spectacular touch of sweetness on the palate combat the spiciness of the meal.”
If you're eating: Smoked Brisket and the classics.
Pair it with a red like: 2012 VIADER Syrah.
“My go-to varietal for BBQ is definitely syrah. The varietal typically has great smoky flavors, both on the nose and the palate, but also bright fruits and acidity that go great with classic BBQ dishes like smoked brisket. Our 2012 Viader syrah is full-bodied, with a hint of smokiness that is complemented by dark fruits like blackberry, fig and plum, and a touch of baking spices on the finish.”
Expert: Justin Stephens, Hunnicutt Wines
If you're eating: Dry Rubbed BBQ Chicken.
Pair it with a white like: 2013 DeSante Old Vine Sauvignon Blanc.
“It's important that the chicken is seasoned with olive oil (to help retain moisture) and dry rub rather than BBQ sauce to retain its delicate attributes and make the pairing shine. Since the rub will most likely have some kick to it, it is important the wine have a brighter (higher acid—notice the theme here?) profile and little to no oak exposure.”
If you're eating: Pork Shoulder.
Pair it with a red like: Hunnicutt Zinfandel, Luvisi Vineyard, Napa Valley
“Zin is known as a BBQ staple and this Zin is perfect with well-marinated, moist, pork shoulder. The acid in the Zin marries well with acidic sauces and cuts the fat of the flavorful shoulder meat.”