Lake and Sumter Style Magazine
1:06 am EDT
Thursday, October 29, 2020

SALUTÈ: Smokin’ hot wines for summer


Barbecues and outdoor cookouts have their own special challenges when it comes to pairing wines with the meal, especially if the outdoor heat index seems to match the inside of your grill.

STORY: Mary Ann DeSantis PHOTOS: Fred Lopez+Matthew Gaulin

Red wine lovers unite! Just because it’s hot outside doesn’t mean you must give up red wines and replace them with crispy whites or summer sparklers. In fact, now is the time to try some new wines with that juicy, sizzling steak hot off the grill.

“Red wine sales fall a little in summer but not as much as you would think,” says Jerome Brouhard, sommelier and manager for Maggie’s Attic in Mount Dora. “There is still a huge demand, and people do love their cabernets.”

Brouhard also recommends Argentinian malbec to complement grilled beef.

“Argentina is known for its beef,” he says, “so it’s not a surprise that malbec pairs well with beef dishes any time of year. Malbecs also have a lot of the same characteristics as cab and merlot.

For rich barbecue dishes, Brouhard is a fan of shiraz (Australian) or syrah (American). This varietal has both savory and sweet spices that come through and often echo the spices found in barbecue sauces.

Red zinfandel — with its deep fruit and bold spice flavors — is another excellent choice to pair with anything barbecued, blackened, flame-broiled, smoked or sizzled. The spicy complexity of zinfandels brings out the flavors of the grill. Affectionately considered “America’s grape,” zinfandels began their journey as California jug wines shortly after Prohibition ended in 1933. They were used mostly in generic red blends but today have almost achieved cult status among oenophiles. It’s not unusual to find wine clubs completely devoted to tasting zins only, and many top producing zinfandel regions, such as Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley and Russian River Valley, are making cellar-worthy zinfandels.

The secret to pairing wines with summer fare is to match the texture and intensity of the food with an equally complex or simple wine. For example, chardonnay is the right choice for a basic shrimp scampi. Throw in a little red pepper and garlic to the same dish, however, and zinfandel might be a better match; the spicy notes in the wine complement the pepper in the scampi.

Of course, there are summer menus when only a light and refreshing wine will do. Personally, I think a chilled, crisp sauvignon blanc is the perfect poolside wine with or without food. If you do need a snack, try it with a tangy and light goat cheese for a classic combination.

Other flavorful summer pairings include cerviche and sauvignon blanc, lemon chicken with Pouilly-Fume, and fried green tomatoes with French Sancerre. In fact, Brouhard recommends Sancerre with grilled fish, shrimp or chicken. Named for their growing regions in France’s Loire Valley, both Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume are really sauvignon blancs, although the grape is not usually listed on the label. Sancerre tends to be more delicate and have a mineral taste while Pouilly-Fume is smoky and earthy.


Salute-0714-JoyceJoyce Huey, Owner, Two Old Hags Wine Shoppe, Leesburg
“When it’s hot outside, I like something light and crispy,” says Joyce.
Her favorites: Joel Gott Pinot Gris 2012, from Oregon. Ca Montebello Pinot Grigio 2012, from Italy.

Salute-0714-JeromeJerome Brouhard, Sommelier and Manager, Maggie’s Attic, Mount Dora
“Shiraz ranks as one of the best wines for barbecue season,” says Jerome.
His favorite: Tournon ‘Mathilda’ Shiraz 2011, Australia


Wine makes an excellent base for marinades for grilled meats. Use chardonnay for fish, poultry or chicken. A merlot works best for beef and lamb. Try the following marinade for your next cookout.

Recipe adapted from Makes 3.5 cups

2 cups wine (chardonnay for fish, poultry and pork; merlot for beef and lamb)
1 cup water
¼ cup (packed) light brown sugar
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt or sea salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh or dried rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon dehydrated garlic

Combine all the ingredients in a non-reactive bowl (glass or stainless steel) and whisk until the salt and sugar are dissolved. The marinade will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Marinating time: 30 minutes to one hour for small pieces. No more than five to six hours for whole roasts.

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