Summer grilling part 2: What wine do I pair with hot dogs, sausages, burgers and steaks?
Now that you know what wines to pair with chicken, seafood, veggies and BBQ, let’s turn our attention to some other cookout favorites. After all, what’s a summer BBQ without the red meat?
While we love just about anything cooked over coals, there’s nothing better than a charred hot dog, a juicy burger, or a thick steak hot off the grill! Except, of course, for a lovely glass of wine to go with it. So part 2 of our Summer Grilling article is all about finding the right wines to pair with your hot dogs, burgers and steaks.
HOT DOGS & SAUSAGES
Hot dogs and sausages come in lots of varieties, but one thing they have in common is that they are salty and hearty, so they need a wine with acid. Many wines could work, but it’s best to avoid big, tannic wines (like Cabernet Sauvignon) and stick to wines with acidity and a touch of sweetness. Our choices: Rosé, Pinot Blanc and Sangiovese.
WINE: 2013 Domaine Saint Aix Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence AIX Rosé, Provence, France
VARIETAL: Blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, and Counoise
TASTING NOTES: Aromas and flavors of green apple, wild strawberry, red cherry, orange zest, cantaloupe, fresh fig, white stone and thyme
PAIRING NOTES: For hot dogs, you want a wine that has acid to cut through the fat and minerality to enhance the salty, savory flavors in the meat. The AIX Rosé is a great choice for these reasons. Plus, its fruitiness will pair well with the sweetness in ketchup. It’s also low in alcohol with virtually no tannins, so you can load up your dogs with spicy mustard or peppers and the wine won’t exacerbate the heat.
AVERAGE PRICE: $17
WINE: 2012 Emile Beyer Pinot Blanc Tradition, Alsace, France
VARIETAL: 100% Pinot Blanc
TASTING NOTES: Aromas and flavors of green apple, white peach, lemon, honeydew melon, white flowers and gravel
PAIRING NOTES: The flavors of food and wine that come from the same place are always a natural pairing (this is what we call a regional pairing), which is why Pinot Blanc and sausages are a match made in heaven. Like the rosé, the Emile Beyer Pinot Blanc has acid to balance the fat and minerality to bring out the savory, but it also has lots of fruit-forward characteristics that will enhance the natural sweetness in certain types of sausage.
AVERAGE PRICE: $17
WINE: 2011 Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Tuscany, Italy
VARIETAL: 100% Sangiovese
TASTING NOTES: Aromas and flavors of black cherry, black plum, rosemary, dried mushrooms, cinnamon, balsamic vinegar, and tobacco leaf
PAIRING NOTES: Italian sausage tends to have more herbs and spices than other types of sausage, so you need a wine that’s a bit more savory. The Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is a perfect choice due to its dried herb and earthy characteristics, yet it still has the acid you need to cut through the fat. It’s also a medium-bodied red wine with lots of fruit-forward characteristics, which balance its savory qualities nicely so that it won’t overpower the flavor or texture of the meat.
AVERAGE PRICE: $29
STEAKS & BURGERS
With steaks or burgers, you want a wine that’s equal to the meat in flavor and in weight, and that also has acidity to both cut through the fat and to cleanse the palate. Our choices: Rioja, Carménère, Cabernet Sauvignon and Brunello di Montalcino.
WINE: 2009 Bodega Rioja Marqués de Terán Crianza, Rioja DOCa, Spain
VARIETAL: Blend of Tempranillo and Mazuelo
TASTING NOTES: Aromas and flavors of red cherry, red plum, blackberry, black pepper, thyme, dry stones, coconut and vanilla
PAIRING NOTES: Rioja is a spicy, full-bodied red wine that is perfect for red meat because the wine and meat are equally bold in flavor and in texture. The Marqués de Terán Crianza is spicy and fruit forward, which brings out the savory and juicy characteristics of a burger or steak, and it has the acid needed to round out the richness. This wine is also delicious with cheese because it has a slightly nutty quality from being aged in American oak, so throw a little cheese on your burger for some extra umph!
AVERAGE PRICE: $16
WINE: 2012 Pérez Cruz Carménère Limited Edition, Maipo Valley, Chile
VARIETAL: Blend of Carménère, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot
TASTING NOTES: Aromas and flavors of blackberry, black plum, lavender, sage, grilled green bell pepper, brown twigs, vanilla and dark chocolate
PAIRING NOTES: For something a little different, this Pérez Cruz Carménère is a good choice. It is fruity, spicy and savory all rolled into one, which brings out all the same qualities in any type of red meat. It also has inherent green notes, which can work especially well with burgers that are seasoned with green herbs like cilantro, rosemary, and thyme, or topped with avocado or salsa verde.
AVERAGE PRICE: $25
WINE: 2012 S&A Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley, California
VARIETAL: Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot
TASTING NOTES: Aromas and flavors of blackberry, black currant, cranberry, red plum, red rose, oregano, rosemary, green bell pepper and vanilla
PAIRING NOTES: Steak and Cabernet is a classic example of food needing wine and wine needing food to taste better—steak needs the acid in Cabernet to cut through the fat and cleanse the palate, while Cabernet needs the fat in the steak to soften its tannins. And the S&A Cabernet will do just that. Plus, it has elegant green notes that will complement any herb or spice-crusted cut of meat. However, because this wine is a bit young, the tannins are more pronounced, so we definitely recommend pairing it with a steak over a burger because the tannins will work better with a heftier type of beef.
AVERAGE PRICE: $26
WINE: 2009 Marchesi de Frescobaldi Luce della Vite Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Tuscany, Italy
VARIETAL: 100% Sangiovese
TASTING NOTES: Aromas and flavors of blackberry, red cherry, red currant, black licorice, cinnamon, nutmeg, tobacco and tomato leaf
PAIRING NOTES: Brunello di Montalcino is one of Italy’s most celebrated (and often most expensive) wines, and an excellent pairing for steak due to its firm structure and bold flavor. It’s also another regional pairing that demonstrates the delicious synergy between food and wine. (If you’ve never had a sip of Brunello with a bite of Bistecca alls Fiorentina, put it on your “must try” list.) The Luce Brunello is full-bodied, high in acid, and rich in flavor and texture, making it equal in weight to a hefty porterhouse or T-bone and able to round out the richness of the meat. Its tannins will also be softened by the fat of a steak, while its earthy and oaky notes will complement the char flavors from the grill. We know this wine is expensive, but for that special summer occasion when you want to make an impression, you won’t be disappointed.
AVERAGE PRICE: $100
ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL
If you’re just looking to keep things simple and want one white or one red that will work all around, remember to pick wines that have acidity and that aren’t too light or too heavy so that they are versatile with your menu. Our choices: Sparkling wine and Pinot Noir.
WINE: NV Mionetto Organic Prosecco, Veneto, Italy
VARIETAL: 100% Glera (certified organic)
TASTING NOTES: Aromas and flavors of green apple, lemon, quince, citrus blossom, honeysuckle, sweet basil and white stone
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: Light, citrusy and fruity, Prosecco can be paired with a variety of foods due to its high acid and low alcohol, but we especially like it with lighter dishes like seafood, chicken and vegetables. The Mionetto Prosecco’s citrus notes will act like a fresh squeezed lemon on seafood, while the fruit notes will bring out the natural sweetness in vegetables, and both of these qualities will make it a great pairing for any type of citrus or fruit glazes/chutneys that you might serve on top of fish and chicken. It’s also high in acid, so it will work with richer sauces and leaner meat as well; however, it doesn’t quite have the structure to stand up to heavier cuts of meat.
AVERAGE PRICE: $12
WINE: NV Veuve Ambal ‘Marie Ambal Cuvée’ Crémant de Bourgogne, Burgundy, France
VARIETAL: Blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Gamay and Aligote
TASTING NOTES: Aromas and flavors of lemon, green apple skin, apple cider, pink grapefruit, citrus blossom, limestone and toasted brioche
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: The Veuve Ambal Crémant de Bourgogne is made in the exact same way that Champagne is made, which gives it more complexity and texture than Prosecco. This Crémant is a better choice if you’re serving steak because it’s fuller bodied and has toasted notes from being aged in oak that will pair well with more pronounced char flavors. It also has a lot of acidity, which cuts through fat and serves as a palate cleanser. And like Prosecco, it has citrus and fruit notes that make it a great pairing for seafood, vegetables, and chicken.
AVERAGE PRICE: $25
WINE: 2011 Gary Farrell Russian River Selection Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, CA
VARIETAL: 100% Pinot Noir
TASTING NOTES: Aromas and flavors of red cherry, cranberry, pomegranate, fresh fig, red rose, cherry blossom, thyme, pink peppercorn, dried shitake mushroom and vanilla
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: Pinot Noir is one of the most versatile varietals because it tends to have a great combination of fruit, herbs, spice, and oak, as well as acid and a touch of tannin that give it the structure it needs to stand up to weightier grilled foods. The Gary Farrell Pinot Noir has all of these qualities, which means it can be paired with lighter grilled fare where the fruit notes matter more, or heavier grilled fare where the acid and structure matter more. It also has spicy and earthy qualities, so it will complement a variety of seasonings, plus it’s perfectly medium-bodied so that it won’t underwhelm or overwhelm whatever you pair it with.
AVERAGE PRICE: $45
WINE: 2012 Steelhead Vineyards Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, CA
VARIETAL: 100% Pinot Noir
TASTING NOTES: Aromas and flavors of red cherry, raspberry, red rose, lavender, black peppercorn, clove, button mushroom, cinnamon and vanilla
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: The Steelhead Vineyards is another well-balanced Pinot Noir, with a touch more weight on the palate. Like the Gary Farrell, it has a great combination of flavor and structure that will work well with a variety of grilled foods.
AVERAGE PRICE: $15
FINAL PAIRING NOTE
As we mentioned in Part 1 of our Summer Grilling article, our suggestions are based on simple, grilled preparations—seasonings, sauces, and toppings all affect a pairing. So be sure to reference our Seven Simple Rules for Pairing Food and Wine for easy guidelines to help you figure out what wine goes best with your menu.
But when in doubt, a safe bet to bring to any type of BBQ is rosé. It has acid, it’s low in alcohol, it typically doesn’t have a lot of tannins, and it has lots of fresh, bright fruit and citrus notes. It’s the perfect summer wine for any occasion, and we highly recommend it if you’re stumped on what wine to pair with your food. So be on the lookout, because we have an article coming up with lots of delicious rosé recommendations!
HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY
We wish you a wonderful 4th of July weekend full of good food, good wine and good company! We are lucky to live in America where freedom is our right, so let’s raise a glass on Friday in honor of our country and give thanks to those who have made our freedom possible.
Allison Albanese has worked in the finance industry for the last eight years as Managing Director of Investor Relations for a hedge fund in NYC. She is also the founder of Parched: NYC, a website launching soon that is dedicated to all things cocktail, wine and beverage-related in NY. Allison is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers and is currently studying for her Advanced Sommelier certification.
Melissa Diaz has spent over 12 years working in the media industry and is currently the Consumer Insights Director at Parade Media Group. Prior to joining Parade she worked at the New York Times in Advertising Market Research. Melissa is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers and is currently studying for her Advanced Sommelier certification.