Long live summer! When the days are longer, the water is warmer and the air is thicker. Though summer may not be the most pleasant season here in South Florida with its relentless heat and threat of hurricanes, there are still some summer traditions that we can enjoy while sweating through the day.
When you think of the season’s holidays and celebrations, it’s hard to imagine one without a grill involved. Hamburgers, hot dogs, ribs and other grilled meats are often a staple of our sweet summer gatherings. BBQ get-togethers with friends and family are back after a long hiatus during the pandemic, and this calls for a clinking of glasses. But what to toast with?
Sure, beer may be the dominant drink at any backyard soirée, but wine lovers also have an opportunity to take pleasure in pairing bottles with grub from the grill.
Whether you’re the one hosting the BBQ or attending someone else’s, here are four examples of great wines to pair with grilled meals that are all under $30.
If you’ve ever visited Argentina, you know what’s usually on the table, and that’s a juicy piece of lomo and a bottle of Argentine Malbec. Despite being native to France, Argentina has given the malbec grape new life and a happy home in the high-altitude vineyards of Mendoza. That is exactly where you will find Domaine Bousquet in the Tupungato region of Mendoza’s Uco Valley in the foothills of the Andes Mountains.
At an altitude of 4,000 feet above sea level, Domaine Bousquet farms its grapes organically and picks them by hand each harvest. These grapes are free of any chemical products and grow in a cool, sunny, high-altitude environment, giving them thick skins and smaller yields for a full-bodied, concentrated wine. The 2019 Domaine Bousquet Reserve Malbec is made to pair with meat, and it retails for around $15 a bottle. It is deep purple in color with pronounced aromas of blackberry, ripe raspberry and peppery spice. Elegance emerges in the mouth with a balanced structure, rounded tannins, and a lingering fruit and spice finish.
Some people will argue that no BBQ is complete without an Australian shiraz. Furthermore, many will say some of the best shiraz comes from Australia’s Barossa Valley. This is good news for the next bottle! Just to the north of Adelaide, Barossa Valley is known for its warm, dry climate and bush vines that produce grapes for full-bodied wines with intense, ripe fruit characteristics. At less than $15 on the shelf, the 2015 Barossa Valley Estate Shiraz packs a punch for a wine with a few years in the bottle. Still full of ripe fruits like red plum, cranberry and blackberry mixed with baking spices on the nose, this wine also has excellent acidity and a peppery finish that is just begging to accompany grilled ribs or lamb chops.
When most folks think of Spanish tempranillo, it’s likely they imagine one of the great value bottles from the region of Rioja, but what about considering a bottle from the Spanish DO of Ribera del Duero? The vineyards of Ribera del Duero are situated on the highest part of the Meseta Central in the Duero Valley region of the country. The continental climate of this area means that the vineyards here experience short, hot, dry summers and cold winters. Warmer days and cooler nights during the growing season ensure these grapes have lots of fruit flavors but also retain great acidity as they ripen. Therefore, these wines tend to be more concentrated and fuller-bodied than their Rioja counterparts.
Bodegas Emilio Moro makes a fantastic tempranillo that retails for just under $30. This wine is full of body and character with deeper red fruit concentration and spice from its time in oak. It is a powerful yet refined wine that perfectly complements grilled meats and smokier dishes.
Sometimes, the answer is a California cabernet sauvignon, and that can absolutely be the case at your summer BBQ. Save your pricey Napa bottles for another time, and head down the coast to pick something up from Paso Robles. Paso is a laid-back region with some of the best value for quality California wines.
Daou atop Daou Mountain is no exception to this rule, and the 2019 Daou Cabernet Sauvignon retails for around $25 but gives way more cab for the cash. This is a bold wine with big, ripe fruit flavors like black cherry and blackberry, and a hint of eucalyptus. Powerful but polished tannins contribute to a well-rounded structure, and new oak plays a role in supplying sweet and savory spice to a pleasantly drawn-out finish. Daou produces several ageworthy wines, but this entry-level cabernet is perfect to drink young. Don’t be shy about sipping it with a juicy hamburger or a bone-in ribeye, as this bold bottle can hold up to the biggest and juiciest of meats.