Ultimate Summer Wine Guide

New and classic wine pairings for grilled foods of all kinds.

By Ray Isle,  reprinted with permission from Food and Wine.

Generally, grilled dishes mean bold flavors, and the top wine matches are intense and full-flavored, too—Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel. But sometimes, these classic pairings can seem ho-hum, so I’ve chosen six great substitutes.

Malbec, like Cabernet, has firm tannins that help it pair beautifully with steak, plus its fruit is as robust and dark. Albariño shares Sauvignon Blanc’s grapefruity tang, making it a great partner for grilled fish, yet it has a flinty minerality all its own. Spanish Monastrell, known as Mourvèdre in France, has the same luscious fruit that makes Zinfandel so good with grilled pork, but with a spicy edge that arguably creates an even better match.

Here’s another reason to opt for these lesser-known varieties: They’re often very well-priced. The 32 terrific choices here start at $10.

New Pairing to Try:

Albariño + Grilled Fish

Classic Pairing: Sauvignon Blanc

New Pairing to Try:

Pinot Gris + Grilled Chicken or Vegetables

Classic Pairing: Chardonnay

New Pairing to Try:

Monastrell + Grilled Pork or Beef

Classic Pairing: Zinfandel

New Pairing to Try:

Malbec + Grilled Steak

Classic Pairing: Cabernet Sauvignon

New Pairing to Try:

Cru Beaujolais + Grilled Salmon

Classic Pairing: Pinot Noir

New Pairing to Try:

Nero d’Avola + Grilled Lamb

Classic Pairing: Syrah

More Classic Pairings for Grilling Favorites

The Food: Barbecued ribs, leg of lamb, steaks
Classic Pairing: Powerful, tannic red: Cabernet Sauvignon, French Syrah

On the Grill: Hamburgers, sausages
In the Bottle: Rich, fruity red: Zinfandel, Australian Shiraz

On the Grill: Grilled tofu, pork chops, steak salad
In the Bottle: Medium-bodied, tangy red: Sangiovese, Grenache

On the Grill: Shrimp, scallops, lobster
In the Bottle: Succulent, minerally white: Pinot Gris

On the Grill: Halibut or other light fish, vegetables, citrus marinades
In the Bottle: Aromatic, zesty white: Sauvignon Blanc, Albariño

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