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They say baseball is “America’s pastime,” and with the MLB season in full swing, I’m certainly enjoying following the game. (Although my A’s and their losing record is causing me a bit of angst these days.)  As much as I’m a sports fan I am, however, I would put outdoor grillin’ atop the list of our country’s great pursuits. Better yet, combine the two (baseball and BBQ), and you’re in proverbial “heaven.” At least in my book.

I love barbecuing. In fact, at our house, it’s a tradition every Sunday evening. Year-round, rain or shine. So, with Memorial Day Weekend and the summer BBQ season upon us, I thought I’d share a quick summary of some popular main dishes to grill, and the wines I think pair best:

  • Chicken—This versatile poultry is ideally suited for both red and white wine. Specifically, I prefer Zinfandel  or Chardonnay.
  • Tri-Tip—Pinot Noir is nice choice here, particularly one that’s full-bodied with some dark berry fruit. 
  • Ribs—To complement the smoky, rich flavors of ribs and other slow-cooked meats, Syrah works well.
  • Burgers—Really, any red blend pairs easily with a beefy burger. (If you’re going veggie patty, consider Sauvignon Blanc.)
  • Steak—A hearty “cab” (Cabernet Sauvignon) is the way to go with virtually any popular steak.
  • Pork—As a lighter meat, pork can benefit nicely from the weight and flavor of Petite Syrah.
  • Salmon—For me, grilled seafood is best enjoyed with a Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, or another white. (If you’re still in the mood for red, try Pinot Noir.)
  • Veggies—Similar to grilled fish, I like whites, such as Chardonnay or Reisling. But light reds work well, too, especially if the veggies are combined with meat on kebabs.

While this list may seem somewhat basic, these are simply combinations I’ve tried and that work for me. There are many other pairings, and I encourage you to comment on some of your favorites. Which brings me back to an important point: wine drinking and pairing is purely a matter of choice and personal preference.

I also suggest to “keep it simple.” Don’t put too much thought into choice of wine, because the more casual barbecue setting doesn’t call for that. The wines certainly should fit the food, but also the mood of the gathering.

The great thing is that you can find a selection of any of the aforementioned wines—and more—at many of El Dorado’s wineries. In fact, the region is known for producing some of the best varietals (more than 50) that result in a diverse selection to meet everyone’s preference.

So the next time you fire up the grill—this weekend?—serve your family and friends some wine. It will help bring out the best in your barbecue.

Let’s Be Real,

The Average Joe

Written by The Average Joe