There’s nothing risky about serving beer with barbecue; it’s a great fall-back position. But if you want to raise the bar, serve wine.
Our “Guest Blogger” this month is Pamela Stubbs, a manager at the hot new New York wine emporium, Crush. She has specific suggestions. (FYI, Pamela is the girlfriend of Steven’s son, Jake, a New York chef.) Pamela writes:
If seafood is on the menu, think “sparkling wines.” This past Fourth of July, Steven served clams hot off the grill–clams we’d dug that afternoon in the chilly waters off Martha’s Vineyard–with flutes of dry Champagne. Perfect. But other countries produce effervescent wines, too, and they can be good values. Hunt for a Prosecco from Italy (Collabrigo is light and refreshing), or a Cava from Spain (I recommend Sumarocca Brut).
Do you love hot, spicy food? Serve Riesling. It deftly handles the exotic and stronger flavors coming off grills these days–Mexican, Indian, Caribbean. Riesling tames the heat with just the right hit of sweetness. Look for Fritz Haag Estate Riesling from the Mosel region in Germany, or Stony Hill White Riesling from the Napa Valley.
Less aggressive preparations of poultry and pork work well with my beloved summer red, Beaujolais. Light-bodied and with beautiful berry fruit on the palate, this wine can be served slightly chilled (50 to 60 degrees) or at room temperature Here’s an insider’s tip: When shopping for a Beaujolais, look for single village production wines-not wines with grapes from several different villages. My favorite village is Julienas. If you see this name on the label, the chances are good you’ll be drinking a great Beaujolais.
Beef, lamb, and ribs suggest sturdier wines. I’m thinking red, here. My top picks for summer are the bold Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel from California, and the curiously named Cimicky Shiraz “Trumps” from Australia’s Barossa Valley, one of the world’s up-and-coming wine regions.
And Vinho Verde (from Portugal) is summer’s favorite wine; it goes with everything. Low alcohol, slightly effervescent, and outrageously cheap (around $6 a bottle), it begs to become your new house wine. (Another insider’s tip: You want to buy Vinho Verde that’s young and fresh. On the back label, a date will run vertically. Look for a vintage from the previous year, i.e., now, look for 2005.)