Seasonal wine pairings are exciting and fun; one of the more refreshing combinations usually are best suited for Summer. However, you do not have to wait for an occasion or large get-together to enjoy a special treat, many of these seasonal ideas can be thrown together in an afternoon or for a quick mid-week treat.
Melon & Proscuito Wraps
Melon and Proscuito Wraps are sweet, salty, juicy snacks and pair best with a dry Rosé; Provence and Languedoc-Rousillon is always my first pick for Rosé wines. While this is a classic pairing that can never go wrong, venturing out and trying something different goes a long way; go with a fruity white wine from Czech Republic, one of the more under-recognized wine regions in Europe as mentioned in "The Lost World of Old World Wines - Czech Republic"; a Pinot Blanc, medium-bodied Chardonnay or the native floral white Welschriesling of Moravia would do great with this pairing.
Fresh Chevre and Watermelon Salad
Served best over arugula, this tasty salad goes best with a medium-bodied white wine. Although a semi-sweet Rosé may come to mind, it can overpower the goat cheese and clash with the watermelon, most dry Rosé wines will too. Instead, choose a medium-bodied, floral white wine like an Argentine Torrontes, Pinot Grigio, a Halbtroken Riesling or a dry, unoaked Chardonnay.
Pickled Foods and White Wine
In our article, Food Trends of 2016, one of the noted trends was pickled foods! If you love vinegar and spices then these pairings will be right for you, but this food curing is often challenging for wine pairings. For spicy pickled vegetables, first start with a medium-bodied white with some residual sugar. The sugar and the body of the wine will balance out the vinegar and compliment the spices. If you're not sure what to pick, stick to the German and Austrian wines. Pickled and fermented veg is their specialty, and their wines naturally go well with these foods. Auslese and Spatlese wines of Gewurztraminer and Riesling work. If you want something New World, try a sweeter Australian Semillon.
For a homemade touch, here's an easy spice mix recipe for spicy Indian-style pickles:
- 1 cup powdered mustard (Coleman's is the best)
- 2 Tablespoons of powdered fenugreek seeds
- 1/4 cup maple sugar
- 2 cups red chili flakes
- 1/2 cup salt*
When you want to make vegetable pickles, just slice up your chosen veg or even mango, add the spice, a clove of chopped garlic and some neutral organic vegetable oil and you have instant spicy pickles!
Fonio: The New Quinoa
Fonio is the next Quinoa. It cooks up just as easy as cous-cous, just add one part boiling water to one part of these tiny little energy-packed grains. Add sautéed mushrooms and onions in good extra-virgin olive oil and toasted pinenuts. Mix in some feta and dried mulberries and fresh sage. Just from the aroma, you'll smell the earthiness and toasty power of this superfood. It makes a nice substitute from the tired bulgur wheat salad. Pair this dish with some earthy Pinot Noir, an old-vine Zinfandel, South African Pinotage or your favorite light-red blend.
Satay & Asian Cuisine Pairings
Asian grilling and spices are a delicious way to vary typical barbecue. Use sesame oils, miso with marinades, brown rice vinegar and mirin for marinades. To keep it fresh and light, lemongrass, thai basil, cilantro and mint can be added at the end or for seasoning. For these foods, stick with medium-bodied, floral whites or dry to semi-sweet. The aromatics of these wines really compliment the spices and toasty sesame oil. If you want to stick with regional libations of Asia, go for unfiltered Nigori and Junmai, slightly chilled, they are delicious with Asian barbecue and refreshing.
Grilled Salad Skewers
Think of your favorite summer salad combinations on a skewer, licked by the grill flames. Try whole sweet pear or heirloom tomatoes with fresh basil leaves and fresh mozz. Or go with Nicoise-style and skewer-up some lightly-boiling fingerling potatoes, oil-cured black olives, grape tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs (even quail eggs), and dress it up with some anchovy, capers and red wine vinaigrette. Semi-sweet to dry rosé wines work best with the skewers that are a little on the salty side. A semi-sweet rose or even medium white will have enough acid to balance out the natural fats and cooking oils and fresh mozzarella. Try Semillon, a tropical Sauvignon blanc, a rose made from Syrah or Malbec (check out Argentina), a medium-bodied Chilean Carmenere for the latter skewer or a fruit Pinot Noir from Oregon or Victoria, Australia.
There you have it. These summer grill and wine ideas should keep you busy for a while, but really if you need more, your imagination is the limit. Think grilled flatbreads, fruits of the sea, even barbecue octopus! What marinades and spices are you using? Those will be your guides as to what pairs with what. If you're a little lost, see our previous articles, White Wine's Affinity to Gastronomic Pleasures and The Simple Side of Food and Wine Pairing.