By Barry Sears
Now that summer is in full swing, firing up the barbeque and soaking up the sunshine is a pastime for many. While summer barbequing has been the domain of beer, I am here to tell you those times are over. Wine is the perfect match for summer sun and everything that comes with it. Read on for my tips, some of which are “out of the box”.
Bold flavors come to mind when I think of barbeque sauces. Therefore, you will need an equally bold wine to match the sauce. Think of fruit driven red blends like cabernet, shiraz, zinfandel and malbec blends, which are usually a great value for their flavor. As for the region, I would look at Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina and California. Two of my favorites for summer are:
Goats Do Roam is a blend of traditionally French grapes that is produced in South Africa. Everything about this wine is fun; even the name itself is a play on words. It displays nice rich fruit flavors and won’t kill your wallet.
Pillar Box Red is a red blend from the Famed Henry’s Drive winery. This Australian Cabernet-Shiraz is a powerhouse that begs for ribs and steaks. The past few vintages have been Robert Parker standouts and a great price.
Let’s face it – summer is hot, really hot, and on a hot day the last thing you want to do is offer your friends a warm glass of red wine. Red wine should be consumed at a temperature about 65° F under normal conditions. A summer barbeque is not what I would call “normal conditions.” So go ahead and put that red wine in the fridge to chill for a refreshing drink in the blazing sun. Don’t worry, if you think it’s too cold it will warm up fast, or if it’s too warm put a few ice cubes in it. There, I said it. Ice cubes in wine are okay in the summer. They will down the flavor a bit, but this is the glory of having wine with flavor to spare. The ice cube trick will also mask some of the flavor, so if you are trying to tell if you’re tasting black cherry or black raspberry you are going to have a hard time.
Now onto white wines. Summer whites to me are acidic with nice fruit flavor, which describes Sauvignon Blanc in a nutshell. I love the acidity of Sauvignon Blancs – it’s refreshing on a hot day. It’s the same reason lemonade is good in the summertime. It gets your mouth watering and makes you want more. The same goes for Pinot Grigios and even some dry Rieslings.
When choosing a white wine, look for a nice fresh vintage. Serve marinate grilled chicken in citrus with a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and your friends will think you are a hero.
If you really want to take a chance, try a sparking wine on a hot summer day. I think you will find it both refreshing and fun. People never give sparkling wine a chance because it’s thought of as a special occasion wine, but the fact is that the bubbles add an extra kick to an already refreshing drink. So, wine should and can be consumed around the grill. Save the beer for a beer battered fish fry. l
Barry Sears is with Täste Bistro and is Bar Supervisor at the Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa, Lake Placid. For more information call 523.7834 ext. 687 or visit www.mirrorlakeinn.com.