Best Wines for Outdoor Grilling

Summer is fast approaching and it’s time to break out the charcoal! And there’s no better time for grilling than Memorial Day Weekend. Hamburgers, ribs, chicken wings, hot dogs—the gang’s all here for your kick-off to summer barbecue—and your grill session deserves an appropriate wine pairing. Here, our reviewers give their top picks for outdoor grilling: 
Skirt steak needs a robust red wine with plenty of tannin—in fact, this is just the meal that tannic wines were designed for! So, a steak is the perfect occasion to break out a good Barolo, Chianti Classico or Cabernet Sauvignon. The tannin levels in these wines can sometimes be a bit much when consumed on their own, but when paired with a red meat, the protein combines with the tannins, resulting in a beautiful harmonizing effect. Apart from the textural synergy, the flavor combo of red wine and beef is just magic. —Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Editor-in-Chief
Just about anything off the grill—yes, including hot dogs—is easy to pair with red wines. My go to red would be a Châteauneuf-du-Pape or Southern Rhône, but a GSM blend from Paso Robles (or a Zinfandel blend from Linne Calodo), or an Aussie Shiraz would be terrific as well. —Jeb Dunnuck
Barbecue calls for light and fresh reds with little or no oak, wines you can—or should—chill, like Casa Castillo’s juicy Monastrell from Jumilla. Not that far from there in Alicante, Rafa Bernabé bottles another Monastrell, which I think is a perfect grape—it’s called a “long drink,” meaning you can drink long mouthfuls of it, not just small sips. The Tragolargo can be kept in the ice bucket. Red Rioja is also a good option here. Abel Mendoza’s superb Guardaviñas would work wonders with grilled lamb chops (even better if they are done over vine-cutting embers), and if you can’t find that 2,000-bottle Cuvée, go for the Jarrarte Maceración Carbónica, which should be readily available. —Luis Gutiérrez
The issue with grilled foods is that you often feel like a red, but, it's summer—and you’ll be grilling! Also, reds get heavy and hot. The obvious answer: Rosé. There are plenty these days that drink with refinement. They have some stuffing and a dry finish. They aren't sweet. They seem pretty serious. One of my regular choices is the Alpha Estate Rosé, from Northern Greece, all Xinomavro. (The 2016 is in the current April Issue.) In June, look for Wölffer Estate's output and Theopetra Estate, among others. For those who want a little more zip and zing, the pinks from Vinho Verde fit the bill with their fine acidity, though, they’re not as concentrated. —Mark Squires 

For fire-roasted or grilled clams, I suggest a more full-bodied white from the Campania region to go with their smoky flavor profile, like a slightly aged Fiano di Avellino (the 2013 vintagefor example). Alternatively, a Pinot Bianco from Alto Adige (from the warmer 2015 vintage) could also make for a perfect pairing partner. These wines have more heft and substance in terms of their texture. But they also boast mineral after notes with the marine flavors and natural “saltines” that make them perfect with mollusks. —Monica Larner

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