Along with beautiful weather, summer brings a whole new assortment of food and entertaining opportunities. From fresh garden salads to grilled meats and fresh seafood, summer fare provides an excellent opportunity to pair some new wines and beers for a refreshing experience.
Barbecues include a wide range of foods that tend to have charred and grilled flavors in common. Whether you are grilling seafood, meats, or vegetables, the smoky flavor can be paired by either echoing the smokiness or by adding a bit of fruity flavor through your wine. A Carmenere from Chile can be an excellent way to complement the smoky flavors in heavier grilled meats and a nice departure from the traditional Cabernet Sauvignon pairing. Of the white wines, a Chenin Blanc will provide an outstanding fruity contrast to lighter grilled meats and vegetables.
Fried foods that abound during summer gatherings match perfectly with sparkling wine or Champagne. The bubbly effervescence of the wine clears the palate from the heaviness of fried foods. Italian Proseccos in particular are a great way to beat the summer heat. Their crisp and fruity character is excellent for pairing with food or just relaxing by the water.
Pinot Grigio, with its light acidic character, is always an excellent option for summer. Many summer favorites such as salads and citrusy seafood call out for acidic wines to help complement their own acidic flavors. A nice alternative to Pinot Grigio is Sauvignon Blanc. With its fresh, crisp character, Sauvignon Blanc pairs extremely well with light summer foods and is an excellent complement to grilled fish and even sushi.
With all the options on the wine front, let’s not forget summer beer selections. Beers and ales from local craft brewers have risen considerably in popularity due to the many different types and flavors available. Restaurants have taken notice and many offer special beer pairing dinners. A light Hefeweizen is a great choice for a hot summer’s day – especially when this wheat beer is paired with a plate of steamed oysters. Summer-session IPAs complement grilled meats and burgers, don’t scrimp on malt flavor, and bring hops like an actual IPA. Plus, session beers have a lower alcohol content, under 5%, which may be helpful in the summer heat. Some brewers are even adding goses to their beer lineups. This sour wheat beer has a salty character that is often accented by a subtle lemon flavor. Try a gose when sitting on the deck or dining on some fresh fish. Other beers like pilsners and Kolsches are light and pair well with picnic foods and barbecues.
As always, drink responsibly, and whatever beverage you select this summer, make it a drink you love!