These Are the Best Wines to Drink with Your Favorite Grilled Food
What's the best thing about summer? Grilling outdoors! Laid-back cookouts call for easy-drinking, fresh wines that enhance all of the flavors and textures that flame and charcoal (or wood) bring to grilled dishes. Read on for our expert pairings for a delicious, effortless grilling season.
Grilled Seafood with Rosé
Nothing says summer like a crisp, juicy, and elegant rosé in your glass. Rosé is the wine that unites oenophiles of every palate preference: bright and refreshing like a white wine but made with red grapes that bring familiar flavors and textures to red wine fans. What's not to love? And if you thought rosé was just for poolside sipping, get to know some excellent, complex rosés that are great pairing partners with seafood: The sweet, briny, and delicate flavors of shrimp, lobster, and grilled fish are perfectly complemented by the light berry tones, floral aromas, and citrus flavors of rosé.
Try Château de Berne Romance Rosé 2020 ($15.99, wine.com) with Grilled Lobster with Sun-Dried Chile Butter and Corn on the Cob for the ultimate summertime pleasure. Chateau Minuty 'M' Limited Edition Rosé 2020 ($22.99, wine.com) transports you directly to St. Tropez and pairs beautifully with Grilled Shrimp Skewers with Orange Glaze. DAOU Vineyards Rosé 2019 ($18.99, wine.com) is perfect with savory grilled fish like Crisp Grilled Salmon with Fennel-Olive Relish. And for an unexpectedly fantastic pairing, try H3 Rosé 2019 ($17.99, wine.com) with Grilled Tuna Burgers.
Grilled Chicken with Chardonnay
Juicy chicken cooked on the grill is a summertime classic for a reason, and the possibilities are endless. Whether slathered with tangy barbecue sauce, marinated with fresh herbs, or topped with a bright salsa, grilled chicken is a versatile crowd-pleaser. When we look for classic, crowd-pleasing wines to pair, the answer is a no-brainer: chardonnay, of course!
Chardonnay is grown worldwide and is made in diverse styles, from rich and buttery to crisp and citrusy. We like to think of it as pure sunshine in a glass. The breezy, Cali-coast attitude of La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2018 ($19.99, wine.com) pairs perfectly with BBQ Chicken Tenders. Joseph Drouhin Laforet Chardonnay 2018 ($16.99, wine.com) is a reliable and affordable French option that will complement Grilled Chicken Breasts with Lemon-Thyme Sauce. And if oaked chardonnay just isn't for you, explore some of the lean and clean un-oaked examples out there, like Yalumba Y Series Unwooded Chardonnay 2019 ($11.99, wine.com) with a simple dish like Grilled Chicken Breast with Cucumber Relish.
Grilled Steak with Cabernet Sauvignon
Ask most grillmasters what they love most to cook over their open flames, and you'll get the resounding reply: steaks! Most cuts of steak never met a grill they didn't like: From juicy sirloin to marinated flank steak, the heat of the grill creates a savory crust on beef that's hard to replicate with any other cooking method.
For wine pairing with grilled steak, you need a bold wine that can stand up to the robust flavors, with enough tannin to cut through the richness of fattier cuts. For those reasons, the best wine for grilled steak is cabernet sauvignon. We recommend Grounded Wine Co. California Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 ($17.99, wine.com) paired with Grilled Balsamic Flank Steak With Peppers and Onions. For great value, Chilean cabernets can't be beat: Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($10.99, wine.com) is not only a great match with Rosemary Grilled Steak with Sweet Onions, but it's affordable enough to stock for a crowd. Grilled Skirt-Steak Salad is a lighter choice for a lazy summer lunch: try it with Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 ($15.99, wine.com).
Grilled Vegetables with Sauvignon Blanc
The bounty of summertime brings amazing produce, which makes it an ideal occasion to fire up the grill! Hit your local farmers' market and pick up bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, and corn—they will all be elevated with the caramelization and char that grilling provides.
Vegetables pair nicely with sauvignon blanc, which is a crisp and light white wine with fresh, bright acidity and herbal character that's often balanced with notes of grapefruit and melon. It's delicate enough to pair with vegetable, and it won't overpower food. A juicy New Zealand bottle like Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2020 ($18.99, wine.com) tastes delicious with Grilled Vegetables with Herb Vinaigrette. Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc 2019 ($29.99, wine.com) is a refreshing choice with Grilled Vegetable Pizzas. And try Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc 2019 ($13.99, wine.com) with Grilled-Vegetable Tostadas and Grilled Corn with Chile-Lime Salt.
Grilled Lamb with Tempranillo
Savory lamb is terrific on the grill, and that's because it has a naturally high fat content, so lamb can handle high heat without drying out. Grilled classics include marinated kebabs, tender lamb chops, and juicy lamb burgers.
For wine pairing with grilled lamb, try tempranillo. It's the primary grape of North Central Spain, and you may have tried it if you're familiar with Rioja. Ribera del Duero and Toro are other Spanish regions where the Tempranillo grape is king. Tempranillo can bring flavors of smoke, dark cherries, and balsamic and has enough tannin and acidity to complement richer cuts of meat. In Rioja, many wineries serve lamb chops grilled right in the middle of the vineyard over an open fire fueled by dried vine cuttings. Try Marques de Riscal Rioja Reserva 2015 ($18.99, wine.com) paired with Grilled Lamb Chops and Red Peppers with Anchovy-Parsley Sauce, or Bodegas Lan Rioja Reserva 2015 ($19.99, wine.com) with Grilled Lamb Chops and Vegetable Kebabs. And Finca Torremilanos Montecastrillo Tinto 2018 ($13.99, wine.com) is great for Grilled Lamb Burgers with Yogurt-Feta Sauce.
Grilled Pork with Zinfandel
Whether you prefer smoky ribs or succulent grilled pork chops, you already know that pork is a grilling staple. Often, pork on the grill will feature sweet and tangy sauces or flavorful marinades, so it's helpful to keep the condiments and preparation in mind when choosing your wine because the meat often gets a boost of flavor from whatever you cook it with.
A wine that's always a winner with grilled pork is zinfandel. One of the most quintessential California reds with a solid American heritage dating back over 100 years feels like the ideal wine for one of the great American pastimes: barbecues! With red cherry flavors, spice, and often a touch of smoke and maple, it's rich and smooth and can even be refreshing when slightly chilled. Pair Bonterra Organically Grown Zinfandel 2019 ($18.99, wine.com) with Barbecued Pork Ribs with Maple Rub. Decoy Zinfandel 2019 ($22.99, wine.com) is a decadent match with Smoky Baby Back Ribs. And Murphy-Goode Liar's Dice Zinfandel 2015 ($23.99, wine.com) is a fun fit with Grilled Pork Chops with Peach-Tomato Barbecue Sauce. Pour a splash of zinfandel into your barbecue sauce for a little extra complexity and the ultimate summer treat.