Rosé, a perfect match to summer grilling

Brynn and Mary write:

Last week’s brief bit of sunshine was a good reminder for all of us that, yes, it is technically spring. And with spring comes one of our favorite ways to prepare food: On the grill.

Not only do we like grilling because of the flavor it adds, but also because when you’re done enjoying your meal there’s minimal clean up required.

As Ann Vogel points out in her column, we in the Pacific Northwest have the luxury of choosing from land or sea what we want to throw on our grill. The variations of these dishes give the appearance of needing different wines, but we think we’ve got one varietal that can match them all.

When we hear shellfish, we gravitate to a lighter wine. However the Memorial Day Shellfish Boil, with its Old Bay seasoning, potatoes, kielbasa sausage, corn, crab and shrimp, calls for a wine that can stand up to the mélange of ingredients.

It is for this reason we recommend a Rosé. Don’t freak out, we’re not asking you to drink a White Zinfandel like your grandma. We’re talking about a real Rosé — one that embodies the subtle flavors of the red wine it could have been.

For those unfamiliar with Rosés (or should we say, unfamiliar with well-made Rosés?) it’s a pink wine that varies in color from light to ruby. The color depends on the grape and how long the juice is allowed to mingle with the skins — the longer they sit together in the fermentation vat, the darker the color.

The wine varies in style from bone dry to syrupy sweet, so look to the alcohol content for direction. (Remember: the higher the percentage, the dryer the wine.)

Rosés are fruitier upfront — think strawberry, cherry, raspberry and watermelon — with negligible tannins. They are food-friendly wines, which is why we suggest them as the perfect pairing for Vogel’s seafood medley. If you’re grilling for a large party and including a mix of seafood, chicken and beef, Rosé is the wine to chill and serve.

A few of our favorites include:

  • Barnard Griffin 2010 Reserve Rosé of Sangiovese: Dry, but with gorgeous watermelon fruit flavors and full-bodied.
  • Folie à Deux Ménage à Trois Rosé: Another dry full-bodied Rosé, fruit-laden with raspberries, strawberries and a silky finish.

These wines are around $12.

Rosé should be served chilled — as in very, very chilled — and makes a nice compromise for those trying to decide between white or red.

If you’re looking to stick strictly in the shellfish department and have visions of enjoying grilled oysters with Vogel’s Cilantro-Lime dipping sauce, we’d recommend a white Rioja or white Bordeaux blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. These wines will bring an acidity and crispness to the dish that will go well with the dipping sauce.

We recommend the Marques de Caceres Rioja Blanco, which retails for about $10 or less.