|Gena's favorite wines to pair with grilled foods.|
Cooking and entertaining outdoors pairs perfectly with nice summer wines. But the traditional Pinot Noir you drink with your sautéed salmon doesn't complement grilled salmon quite as well. Grilling gives foods a rich, woodsy flavor, so in return, the wine you drink should have a little more body.
For tips, I visited Athens' own Gosford Wine, which is co-owned by Hugh Acheson, a local chef and two-time James Beard Award nominee. There I met Taylor Carmichael, who is full of wine knowledge. He gave me a step-by-step lesson on pairing wines with my favorite grilled foods.
Get Taylor's suggestions and Gena's filet mignon recipe after the jump.
Summer Appetizer Wine: Vinho Verde
I buy this wine by the case throughout the summer. Not only is it affordable, it's light, crisp and perfect for hot summer nights. Vinho Verde is a very common wine in Portugal and its semi-sparkling characteristic raises eyebrows at the first sip. Try pairing it with my Grilled Prosciutto-Wrapped Peaches.
Suggestion: Casal Garcia Vinho Verde, Portugal ($9.99)
Lighter Seafood: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, full of grapefruit and melon with a cool undertone of grass, pairs beautifully with summer seafood. Grilled shrimp, grouper, halibut and even tilapia take on the woodsy flavor of the grill and that's exactly what fruit flavors in this wine respond so well to. Look for a less herby Sauvignon Blanc with a grassy undertone. You want the wine to have enough acidity to stand up to the grilled flavors. Pair it with my Grilled Shrimp-and-Olive Skewers.
Suggestion: The Crossing Sauvignon Blanc 2008, New Zealand ($13.99)
Grilled Salmon and Pork: 100 Percent Tempranillo
When I think of salmon or pork tenderloin I immediately think Pinot Noir, which is what so many wine articles have taught me. However, when you grill foods you bring in a whole dimension of flavor, and the woodsy char definitely calls for a little heavier wine. This 100 percent Tempranillo is the answer. The medium-bodied red is full of bright red fruit such as cherries; it is earthy and slightly spicy and whether you are grilling or plank-grilling salmon, this is the perfect wine.
Suggestion: Vivir Vivir 2006, Spain ($11.99)
Barbecued Chicken and Ribs: Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
If you are new to wines this grape may sound a little intimidating, but it is actually delicious Italian wine that retails for around $10.99. Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, meaning "just south of Italy," is a grape that is generally fruity with soft tannins. It stands up well to the acidity from the tomatoes in traditional barbecue sauce and if you are into the sweeter, molasses-type flavors of a Kansas City-style barbecue sauce, then this wine is for you. I personally love the mustard- and vinegar-style sauces, but when you pair an acidic wine with acidic food it will result in either the food or wine tasting bitter. So your best option for a vinegar- or mustard-based sauce is ... a good ol' cold beer. Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is perfect for the upcoming Fourth of July, and you can always serve a red slightly chilled if you are trying to beat the heat.
Suggestion: Quattro Mani Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2008 ($10.99)
Grilled Red Meats: Malbec
A traditional Malbec has dark purple to black fruit and is robust and full. The tannins in Malbec really stand up well to the fat in red meat and the char from the grill. The folks in Argentina do a fine job growing Malbec grapes and this is one of those wines you want to keep on hand for all your summer steak cookouts. Pair it with my Filet Mignon with Rosemary and Garlic Crust (recipe follows).
Suggestion: Altocedro Malbec 2008, Argentina ($16.99)
Filet Mignon with Rosemary and Garlic Crust
Break out the Malbec and enjoy this delicious dish on a special night.
PREP TIME 20 minutes
COOK TIME 10 minutes
YIELDS 6 servings
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 1/2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
6 6-8-ounce beef fillets, 1 inch thick
FIRST Combine garlic, rosemary, mustard, oil and salt in a small mixing bowl; season with pepper.
NEXT Preheat grill to medium-high heat, about 450 degrees F. Rub fillets with garlic mixture and allow to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.
LAST Grill fillets for about 5 minutes per side, until medium-rare. Remove from grill and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.
And in case you missed it, be sure to check out our resident wine expert's faves for the grill season.
Gena Knox is the founder of Fire & Flavor and the author of "Gourmet Made Simple." She's blogging about grilling this summer for Slashfood. For more information on Gena, visit her Web site GenaKnox.com. For more grilling tips, visit the AOL Food Grilling page. To read all Gena's recipes on AOL Food, check out her online cookbook.