Time to Fire Up the Grill… and don’t forget the Vino!!

After a shaky start to the Spring, it would seem the warm weather is here to stay. With Memorial Day fast approaching it’s time for everyone to get their A game on for the BBQ season! Since there are so many decisions you will have to make on your own; such as what cuts of beef to buy, how many sides to prepare and who to leave off the guest list (yikes!), the least I can do is give you some ideas for the wine list.

Nothing says Spring like a glass of chilled white wine on a warm, sunny day. That’s right boys, I am confident enough in my manhood to sip a clean, crisp Sauvignon Blanc as a BBQ opener….and I highly recommend it. The lemon zest and citrus flavors of a typical Sauvignon Blanc from Cali or New Zealand are not only refreshing, but go well with the popular chilled seafood apps such as shrimp cocktail or seafood salad.

If you like something a little sweeter, but not overtly sweet like Riesling, pick up a few bottles of Vouvray. This underrated area in the Loire Valley produces some of the best white wine to come out of France. Made from the Chenin Blanc grape, they are typically a little sweet but with good acidity. Flavors of apple, citrus and honey are prevalent in most styles of Vouvray.

But what to pair with all the meat that’s about to be charred? Why not look to the country that has the highest consumption rate of beef… Argentina! Malbecs from Argentina (Mendoza in particular) are the perfect companion to almost any style of meat you choose to cook. These are big wines with dark color, intense fruit flavors and nice tannic structure. They are also usually quite reasonable as compared to some of their US and French counterparts, which makes it easy to find some quality juice under the $15 mark.

I know there are those that argue California Cabs or Zin is the way to go for a standard BBQ red. Both are great, but I prefer to reach for a Syrah for a couple of reasons. The dark fruit and earthy flavors coupled with the peppercorn and meaty (even bacon fat!) components of these wines go hand in hand with char grilled beef.

There are also so many different areas of Cali where Syrah is made that you’ll find some fun variations in these wines. Ones that come from Napa or Sonoma will be quite different from those that come out of Paso Robles or the Santa Ynez Valley. Regardless, they are doing some wonderful things with Syrah all over Cali right now and it’s ready to make a name for itself!

Below are some of my favorites and I hope they become yours as well. Enjoy the season and fire up that grill!

 SAUVIGNON BLANC

 Under $15

Geyser Peak, California

Simi, California

Brancott, Marlborough, New Zealand

 $16-30

St. Supery, Napa

Cakebread Cellars, Napa

Cloudy Bay, Marlborough, New Zealand

 VOUVRAY (Chenin Blanc)

 Under $15

Barton & Guestier Vouvray

J. Moreau & Fils Vouvray

Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc – Viognier, California (One of my favorite white wines!)

 $16-30

Vouvray Cuvee Silex Sec Vigneau-Chevreau

Huët Vouvray Sec le Haut-Lieu

MALBEC

Under $15

Gascon Malbec, Argentina

Punto Final Malbec Classico, Argentina

AVE Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina

 $16-30

Luigi Bosca Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina

Catena Zapata Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina

Pascual Toso Reserve Malbe, Mendoza, Argentina

SYRAH

Under $15

J. Lohr Syrah, Paso Robles, CA

Red Truck Red, California (Syrah based blend…. GREAT Value!)

Castle Rock Syrah, Sonoma, CA

 $16-30

Zaca Mesa Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley, CA

Burgess Syrah, Napa Valley, CA

Landmark Vineyards “Steel Plow” Syrah, Sonoma, CA

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