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10 Foolproof Wine Pairings for Summer Feasts

How to sync your BevMo run with your grocery list.


Whether your grill has seen plenty of action or you’re just dimly aware of the season (thanks, Karl), there are still technically two months left of summer. Which means it’s not too late for that oyster extravaganza—or just a few burgers thrown on the grill. Whatever the occasion, know that you’re not limited to beer just because it’s koozie season. Here are 10 palate-pleasing wines to go with your summer faves. 


Dish: Grilled prawns 
Wine: Retzlaff Estate chardonnay 
Price: $18
Why it pairs: Retzlaff chardonnay balances summer flavors of peach and other stone fruits with bright, even acidity and a touch of smooth oak. The lightly sweet and crisp flavors of the wine play well with smoky and salty prawns, and will cool the heat if you go big on seasoning. If you can get your hands on Marie Sharp’s hot habanero or smoked habanero sauce, then you’re really in the money. 

Dish: Heirloom tomato salad
Wine: Sebastiani Sonoma County sauvignon blanc 
Price: $14
Why it pairs: A crisp and refreshing sauvignon blanc, Sebastiani will add structure to soft tomato textures and accent acid and sweet summer flavors. You can add strawberries, cucumbers, feta, and just about anything else you like. But be careful with intense flavors like olives and red onions, which, if overdone, might give the wine a bitter bite. A chili lime vinaigrette will accent the minerality of this sauvignon blanc and even tease out notes of jalapeño. 

Dish: Grilled pizza (especially veggie) 
Wine: Simi sauvignon blanc
Price: $15
Why it pairs: This lively, citrusy wine plays well with sweeter pizza sauces and toppings like summer squash, shallots, mushrooms, and greens. The wine’s fresh flavors will support a grilled or blackened pizza crust. Bonus: grilling lemon slices on the pizza, or adding a dash of citrus (or even a citrus oil on the crust) will really tie this pairing together. You’re also safe with spicy toppings like Italian sausage and pepperoni, since the wine will cut through the heat. 


Dish: Ceviche
Wine: Isa rosé of grenache 
Price: $18
Why it pairs: The gentle minerality, sweetness, and acidity of this wine—accompanied by a wide and smooth texture and mouthfeel—balances the tart acidity of ceviche. You’re safe with shrimp, scallops, fish, and olives. Or take this one to the next level by adding tomato sauce and/or avocado. Use plenty of lime to really push this pairing to the limit.

Dish: Oysters
Wine: Claypool Cellars Sonoma Coast pinot noir rosé  
Price: $28
Why it pairs: People tend to lean toward white wine when it comes to oyster pairings, but the fruitlike qualities of many oysters are accentuated by rosé, especially bold rosé of pinot noir like Claypool (yes, that Les Claypool). The hints of sweet peach and lemon oil in the wine highlight the sweetness of the oyster and cut through spicy sauces. And the strong, stony minerality of the rosé accents the harder sea-like qualities in the oysters. Look for Sweetwater and Kumanoto oysters for the ultimate locavore pairing—both the wine and oysters are harvested within miles of each other.

Dish: Grilled fish (especially salmon) 
Wine: Truvée rosé 
Price: $15

Why it pairs: This fruit-forward but dry rosé is refreshing and will go well with just about any grilled fish as long as it doesn’t have a big red sauce. The wine’s solid acidity with light flavors and delicate mouthfeel stand up to big flavors like salmon or trout, and will also go nicely with grilled white fish like halibut or tilapia. 


Dish: Smoked meats (especially ribs) 
Wine: Mondavi Bourbon Barrel Aged cabernet sauvignon 
Price: $13.99
Why it pairs: This dark wine is packed with flavors of chocolate, vanilla, blackberry, coffee, and smoke. And there’s perhaps no better pairing than big red wine—or, hey, bourbon—and red meat. Since this particular red wine was aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels, you’re getting the best of both worlds. Even if big reds aren’t normally your thing, this wine is silky and smooth (and a good pairing with many cheeses). 

Dish: Grilled pork loin 
Wine: Russian River Migration pinot noir 
Price: $38
Why it pairs: In this complex wine you’ll find that its deep red fruit and brooding black cherry balance hints of tart plum skin and the sweetness of cinnamon and orange. If that sounds like the makings of a great chutney, well, that’s why this pinot is an exceedingly nice pairing with a lightly blackened pork loin. The wine will also match well with plumb and other typical pork sauces, but use caution if you’re serving a mustard sauce; you don’t want any awkward flavor battles. 

Dish: Grilled ribeye (and other thick red steaks and burgers)
Wine: True Grit Reserve petite sirah
Price: $20
Why it pairs: This formidable petite sirah pairs very well with a grilled ribeye steak and other thick, juicy cuts. A pushy syrah with a full body, serious tannins, and deep fruit flavors, True Grit complements a salty, peppery, crunchy grilled steak with well-marbled texture. Try this wine with a New York strip, T-bone, or tenderloin, too.      

Dish: Grilled hanger steak (and other thin red steaks)
Wine: Heitz Cellar Ink Grade Vineyard zinfandel 
Price: $26.50
Why it pairs: This supple zinfandel is fresh, lively, and packed with flavors of berries and spice. It’s a juicy wine that will bring out the best in a grilled hanger steak, which is typically on the thin and dry side. Expect flavors of raspberry, black cherry, and pepper from this wine, and look to a lighter but spicy chimichurri or rub that will enhance these flavors without muting the wine’s subtleties or adding any more sweetness. 


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