Get Your Grill On
One of my favorite things about summer is cooking and eating outside. Not like I have too much recent experience with this given my city habitat, but a girl can dream about grilling EVERYTHING, can't she? Plenty of your favorite wines pair perfectly with al fresco dining, so I'm going to give you a breakdown of some wines available at Whole Foods all under $20 and the seared, charred, and roasted foods that complement them so well. Happy Summer, y'all.
Gruet Blanc de Noirs is a sparkling wine from New Mexico. I've never had a wine from this state and didn't even realize that it's a notable winemaking region. I was pleasantly surprised with my introduction. The Gruet vineyards are located at some of the highest altitude sites in the US, which makes the production of fine wine possible in an otherwise hot and dry region. The term "Blanc de Noirs" means that only black grapes were used to make the wine, in most cases it is Pinot Noir. However, the wine has the appearance of a white wine because the juice does not come into contact with its skins during the winemaking process, which is what gives red wines their color. Using black grapes provides additional structure and complexity to the wine and can also express notes of red fruits. This wine showed aromas and flavors of peach, pear, green apple, and strawberry and had notes of dough and biscuit on the nose. I like to start a meal with sparkling wine rather than enjoy it with dessert because the dryness, acidity, and bubbles just go so well with cheeses, cured meats, and other starting dishes. It can also be well matched with foods from the grill, such as clams, or octopus if you're so inclined.
Domitia Picpoul de Pinet 2014 is a white wine from the Languedoc region of Southern France. The vast majority of French wines are labeled by region, but Picpoul de Pinet is one of the few exceptions. The Picpoul grape produces fresh, crisp wines at a very good value - perfect for summer drinking. This particular wine is a really nice example of the grape and it boasts a profile of Bosc pear, green apple, lemon, grapefruit, and white pepper. It's a light bodied and zesty wine that would pair nicely with roasted chicken, shrimp kebobs, and grilled fruits and vegetables - pineapple and zucchini with balsamic first came to my mind. Hungry yet?
One of the staple wines of summer is Rose and a party really just isn't the same without it. Innovacion Malbec-Syrah Rose 2014 is a good choice if you like juicy, fruity roses. This wine is from Mendoza, Argentina and it shows a fruit character of strawberry, cherry, plum, and peach along with some sweet spice notes. The body and flavors were more delicate than I was expecting, which was nice, and it showed its best when it was chilled. It's an easy to drink crowd-pleaser and will pair well with many of the go-to BBQ foods like salads, burgers, and sausages as well as some atypical party foods like game birds or smoked ham.
Cloudveil Pinot Noir 2013 is from the Dundee Hills AVA in the Willamette Valley region of Oregon, an area that is widely renowned for its production of Pinot Noir. This wine expresses notes of raspberry, red cherry, crushed strawberry, and cinnamon on the nose. The palate was similar, but had a darker berry character with prominent red cherry and dark raspberry. Its medium body and moderate tannins make it a good match for lighter meats seasoned with herbs, such as grilled chicken and pork, or a hearty fish like tuna.
Lastly, I tasted the Vega Montan Mencia, which is a red wine from the Bierzo region of Spain. It's made with the Mencia grape and it was my favorite of all 5 wines. The tannins and acidity were both high, it had a nice balance of fruit and spices and showed rich dark fruits of black cherry and plum along with vanilla, clove, and nutmeg. It's quite pleasant and more importantly, a good value. It would be ideal paired with steak or with anything smothered in BBQ sauce because the tangy flavors are nicely complemented by the sweet spice character of the wine.
All of these wines are currently available at Whole Foods locations across the country. Check their website for more info and pick up a few of these bottles to enjoy throughout the rest of grilling season. Cheers!