With summer comes the beloved backyard barbeque and inevitably talk of wines to go with. Initially, thoughts of bold char-grilled flavors, beefy burgers, and barbeque sauce bombard my wine savvy conscience but the lingering struggle of taste vs. temperature endures all summer long. It’s not likely you’ll crave a monster Zinfandel on a 90- degree day, but you are likely to be poking the charcoals instead of steaming up your kitchen.
Not everything that hits the bricks of a BBQ is slathered with sauce. In fact, last night our dinner off the grill consisted of dijon-glazed Sockeye salmon, lightly grilled slices of ciabatta, and a side of buttery egg noodles with cracked black pepper sprinkled with dill and marjoram from the garden, simply sliced heirloom tomatoes, and an Arugula salad squirted with fresh lemon juice, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and topped with shaved Parmesan. Not one thing on the list lent itself to red wine, except the charred edges of the Ciabatta. This meal from the Bar-B wasn’t about the sauce, it was about the ease of cooking over coals, the subtle smoky and fresh vibrant flavors of food, all sans BBQ sauce. So when choosing wines for your BBQ first, you must decide whether your “Q is about the sauce or the simplicity of grilling.
If your meal for the BBQ mirrors mine, go for a simple wine and leave the reds behind. This wine lavishes refreshing salads and grilled fish with its light and lively acidity, and it goes great with simple slingbacks and flirty summer frocks.
Les Charmes Chardonnay 2007, $11 This French Chardonnay has a butterscotch finish that pairs perfectly with buttery rich textured fish from the grill. It’s not all butter, though: it’s balanced with vibrant acidity that tingles your tongue and cheeks. From sip to sip this wine changes so don’t always sip the same way. Swish and swirl and you’ll find this to be a most enjoyable summer white.