Memorial Day weekend is in the rear view mirror which means that summertime is about to arrive. This time of year, some people’s thoughts turn to gardening or even golf, but not mine. My thoughts turn to grilling various meats and vegetables and accompanying these culinary delights with cool bottles of lighter-textured wines that refresh the body and the recharge the spirit.
I am referring to approachable whites and reds that transform your grilled foods into even more delicious morsels, and raise the overall gustatory experience to sublime levels. And most of the wines listed below retail for less than $30 a bottle.
Let’s start with my go-to spring and summer white.
This is a great time of year to sip crisp, herbaceous sauvignon blanc with herbal suffused foods such as salmon with dill, grilled asparagus, or even a basil pesto over linguine. Or how about these sauvignon blanc friendly options: creamy chicken salad with tarragon or sautéed brocolini and shitake mushrooms.
You’ll want to search for richer, more fruit forward styles of sauvignon blanc that bring out the best in these types of dishes, like : St. Supery, Ferrari-Carano, Nobilo, Chateau St. Jean, Duckhorn Sonoma County, Kenwod, St. Michelle and Sterling.
My absolute favorite picnic and warm weather wine is rose’. Nothing beats the freshness and suitability of rose to pair with foods like grilled Brats, Italian sausage, or baby back ribs. Give these babies a try: Domaine Fontsainte Gris de Gris, Banfi Centine Rose, Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rose, Elizabeth Spencer Rose of Grenache and Ferraton Tavel Rose.
Sangovese and pinot noir are my seasonal choices for red wines in the springtime, particularly when matched with grilled dishes. And spring lamb is just about as good as it gets. Whether you choose a boned and butterflied leg, lamb chops or rack of lamb, these wines do not over-power the food, but rather compliment and enhance the flavors.
Here are some sangiovese choices for the grilled lamb dishes mentioned above: Ruffino Chianti Classico Riserva Ducale, Carpineto Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano, Falcor Sangiovese, Monsanto Chianti Classico, Fossi Chianti and Monte Antico.
Pinot noir may be the world’s most versatile wine with a multitude of dishes. From grilled salmom to chicken, to spicy barbecue and even beef, pinot noir shows its adaptability to a host of foods with different tastes and textures. And a slightly chilled pinot noir is the perfect accompaniment to outdoor dining.
Try these favorites of mine: Erath(Williamette Valley), Cloudy Bay (New Zealand), Joseph Phelps Freestone Vineyards Sonoma Coast, Chehalem Winery, King Estate, Twomey Russian River, La Crema and Melville.
Okay, so here’s a recipe for a simple warm weather dish that could be used as an appetizer or an accompaniment to other picnic type foods. It also pairs up well with just about any of the wines mentioned above. It’s actually a bit spicy, but if you like a little heat with your meal, this is one you’ve got to try.
– Eight medium poblano peppers
– One red and one yellow bell pepper
– One-half pound of sharp, grated white cheddar cheese
– Two ounces extra virgin olive oil
– One –half teaspoon each of salt and pepper
– One large paper bag and several sections of paper towels
Scorch each poblano and bell pepper on a very hot grill until peppers are fairly black
Wrap and cover each pepper in a paper towel and place in the closed paper bag
Allow peppers to steam for about one-half hour
Remove from bag and use a small knife to scrape off burnt pepper skin
Discard seeds and stems from peppers and cut each into two or three pieces
Place a layer of poblano pieces in a small square or rectangular baking dish
Add small amounts of olive oil, salt and pepper and cheese to poblanos
Alternate and stack poblanos with yellow and red peppers
Bake in the oven for 25minutes at 325 F.
Slice into small squares and serve