Divine wines for grilled burgers, steaks, chicken and seafood
May 28th, 2012
08:30 AM ET
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Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.

Memorial Day is rolling our way, and it’s good to remember that the holiday itself exists in honor of those who died while serving in our country’s armed forces. But, that said, Memorial Day weekend serves a different purpose - it is the time of the year when, for many people, the clouds part and a vast and disembodied voice says from on high, “NOW YOU MUST GRILL.”
Since I’m not one to argue with vast and disembodied voices, I’ll be out there grilling as well. And since I don’t see any point to being near a grill without some wine - or with eating grilled food without wine - here are a few suggestions for some favorite grilled foods.

Burgers and Steak
We eat a lot of beef (in fact, we eat a lot of meat, period - the 276 pounds per person per year we consume is only outdone by, strangely enough, Luxembourg). And for beef-friendly wines, it’s hard to argue with the value-for-money equation offered by Argentinian Malbec, whose dark, plummy fruit and edge of peppery spice works beautifully with grilled meat. A few top values are the 2010 Kaiken, the 2010 Tilia, the 2011 Bodini and the 2010 Pascual Toso, all of which come in under $12 or so.

It’s all about the sauce. Pretty much anyone who grills chicken either marinates it or swabs it or slathers it or something, so: If BBQ, go red; if citrus-tangy, go white; if uncertain, well, I’d go rosé, but that’s just me. BBQ sauces tend to be a bit sweet and also spicy, so go for a substantial but fruity red, such as a Zinfandel. The intense 2009 Brazin Old Vines Zinfandel is a great choice. For citrusy-tangy flavors (plus that smoky grilled edge), try a crisp Oregon Pinot Gris, like the 2010 A to Z or the 2010 King Estate.
Shrimp (also scallops)
Generally speaking, richer, oakier white wines don’t work well with shellfish. Go for something light and bright, like the citrusy, minerally white wines of the Greek island of Santorini. Sigalas, Hatzidakis, Argyros and Boutari are all top producers.
Salmon (or other grillable fish)
Thick cuts of fish, particularly richer fish like salmon or tuna, are good with robust whites like California Chardonnay, but they’re possibly even better with a good dry rosé. Provence originated this crisp, berry-scented style—look for wines like the 2011 Chateau de Roquefort Corail or the 2011 Bieler Rosé de Provence; or, from the US, Bonny Doon’s bright 2011 Vin Gris de Cigare.

More from Food & Wine

America's Best Bars

Best Burgers in the U.S.

Best Steak in the U.S.

America's Best Fried Chicken

Memorial Day Party Recipes

Previously - The right wines for BBQ and Top burger (and budget) friendly wines for Memorial Day and An unlikely pairing: Burgers and wine

Read - Achieve grilling greatness – tips, recipes, advice and inspiration from professional chefs and backyard masters

© 2011 American Express Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Filed under: Content Partner • Food and Wine • Grilling • Sip • Wine

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soundoff (20 Responses)
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    August 13, 2013 at 12:54 am |
  2. Brewer1056

    You know that is a wine glass full of beer, no?

    May 28, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • mark glicker

      Consider some sparkling Cider as well.

      May 28, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  3. Ever heard of beer?

    For grilling and chilling, a good microbrew will knock the socks off your fancy pants wines. Now we can debate whether a light or a dark brew will pair well with white or dark meat. Groan. Hint. Drink enough. You won't care what you're eating.

    May 28, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
  4. Rubbish

    Drink whatever you want with whatever you like. Drink white wines with red meat and red wines with white meat. Be daring. A coke or coke zero is your best friend with Korean barbecue. Cabernets work just fine with salmon. White wines help cut out the grease from rich and fatty steaks. And I'd like to meet the person who likes to pair burgers with Malbecs. Never heard such high falutin' nonsense. Does the author recommend wine parings with fine breakfast cereals as well?

    May 28, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
  5. stuart

    So it's a story about WINE but the wine glass has got BEER in it ??? wtf?

    May 28, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  6. johnnynutbone

    Gary is Gay!

    May 28, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  7. jack

    well i got on here expecting them to tell me merlot w/burgers,sauvignon w/ chickin!
    what did i git! a wine snobs ad for brands!!

    May 28, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  8. Steve-Oooh

    Drugs are bad mmmk

    May 28, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • maggotfist


      May 28, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  9. Germain

    Why is it bad to smoke weed?

    May 28, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • jim

      'Cause it leads to screwin'!

      May 28, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  10. nickoo

    By not mentioning PORK, on the most epic BBQ day of the year, you fail. I'll be having a spicy Cabernet to go with mine!

    May 28, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  11. PantyRaid

    They need to make an article about what weed to smoke with different foods.

    May 28, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Tommy Chong

      Panama Red goes with everything. :)

      May 28, 2012 at 10:24 am |
      • SonicBoom

        No, Guile's theme song goes with everything!

        May 28, 2012 at 11:07 am |
        • P00operstein

          it's bad to smoke weed

          May 28, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • jim

      If you have weed, you don't need food!

      May 28, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
      • SonicBoom

        Its obvious you never had weed!

        May 28, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
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