The right wine (and we’ve tried a shocking number) takes fresh flavors to an all new level
Cabernet Franc is a very aromatic cousin to Cabernet Sauvignon. One of the five Bordeaux grapes, it has almost always been
blended in with one or more of the others ― until now. Coming on strong on its own in the West, it has an exotic combination
of florals and spices that make a great foil for Moroccan flavors and pungent lamb.
Recipe: Lamb Chops with Moroccan Barbecue Sauce
If you remember Riesling as a syrupy-sweet starter wine in the 70s, give it another try now!
Crisper and drier, it’s an incredibly interesting food wine ― cutting through fried foods like our favorite fish tacos and bringing enough citrus to the match to act like a spritz of lime.
Recipe: Baja Fried-Fish Tacos
When it’s not fermented or aged in oak barrels, Chardonnay shows off its bright, lively apple, pear, citrus, and/or tropical fruit flavors big-time.
One of the many versions out now that ditched the oak would be a fresh sip with this unusual sandwich.
Recipe: Halibut Salad Sandwiches
Red wine with red meat is safe, but who wants to be safe all the time?
The smooth cherry-and-chocolate personality of Merlot serves meaty chicken thighs well, especially if you add sweet peppers and fresh herbs.
Recipe: Grilled Chicken Thighs with Sweet Onions and Peppers
Set out fajitas, and people might be thinking Corona or margaritas.
Shock them instead with a good Chardonnay, with enough crisp citrus to handle orange- and lime-marinated chicken with lots of onions and sweet peppers.
Recipe: Tequila-Marinated Chicken Fajitas
Pinot loves salmon, no matter what form it takes. Put the fish in a burger, and the wine’s juicy berries still set it off.
And since many Pinots have an earthy, smoky edge, a salmon burger from the grill has an even better chance of being the perfect Western partner.
Recipe: Double Salmon Burgers
In France’s Bordeaux region, a white wine is a mix of mostly Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon ― two grapes that balance each other
well, the Sauv. Blanc bringing tart citrus and earthy minerals to the table, the Semillon rounding them out with a little
creaminess and sweet pear.
As it turns out, the result tastes great with many Chinese dishes, including our favorite chicken salad.
Recipe: Best-Ever Chicken Salad
With its creamy citrus and buttery side, Chardonnay has an uncanny affinity for squash (both summer and winter). It’s also often a great texture match for legumes. We capitalize
on all of that here ― plus its partiality for sweet seafood ― in a summer soup made for Chard.
Recipe: Yellow Squash and Split Pea Soup with Shrimp
Sometimes you just have to give in to a cliché: What could be better than a good steak and a glass of Cab? Only a good steak coated with crunchy-hot pepper and loaded up with tangy balsamic onions.
Recipe: Multicolored-Pepper Steaks with Balsamic Onions
Few wines go with as many foods as crisp, aromatic Riesling does.
The pungent herbs, garlic, chiles, and Indian spices here would intimidate most other varieties. Not a slightly off-dry Riesling, though, with delicate peach and apricot flavors and exotic floral aromas.
Recipe: Tandoori Shrimp in Green Marinade
Creamy-textured Pinot Gris loves meaty fish like halibut, but it also has a crisp acidity that is a great counterpoint to fried foods like tortillas.
That citrus zing keeps up with the marinade and spices in these tostadas too (consider it a lemon wedge on the side).
Recipe: Halibut Tostadas with Yogurt-Lime Sauce
Think outside the box ― red wine can be just the thing with white meat.
On the face of it, turkey might seem an odd match for a hearty Syrah, but the prosciutto in our recipe brings out its meaty, baconlike quality, and the grill flavors accentuate the wine’s smoky, earthy side.
Recipe: Prosciutto-wrapped Turkey Breast with Fontina and Sage
Big, tannic, red Nebbiolo needs a cut of beef that’s both flavorful and marbled with fat. Rib-eye’s your steak for this one.
And the miso butter on ours adds a remarkable savory bridge to the wine.
Recipe: Grilled Rib-eye Steaks with Miso Butter
Dungeness crab and Chardonnay are a perennial treat. The sweet fruit flavors a Chard offers keep step with the sweet shellfish, and the wine’s typical
butteriness ― which can get in the way for some foods ― is an asset with crab.
Choose a Chardonnay with a bright lemon profile to echo the Meyer lemon juice in this salad. And if you find one with a hint of tropical fruit, you’ll have a link to the sesame oil in the dish too.
Recipe: Meyer Lemon-Crab Salad
Pork ribs and Zinfandel are one of summer’s best pairings ― and an all-American one, since Zin is as close to a native grape as we have: While it
traces its roots to eastern Europe, no one in the world does Zin like California winemakers.
We’ve shamelessly spiked our homemade barbecue sauce here with the wine to lock in the match.
Recipe: Herb-rubbed Baby Back Ribs
Corn and Chardonnay are such an inspired pair, they can get you through the whole summer.
Find a Chard that’s bright with lemon flavors and crisp enough to work well with the other veggies in our chowder yet buttery and rich enough to thrive with the bacon.
Recipe: Chicken and Corn Summer Chowder
What’s not to like about Cab and steak?
We’ve dressed this steak down for summer with sauce and greens, so find a Cabernet that’s not so ripe that it’s lost its natural acidity (so it can handle the tomato) and one that has an herbal layer as well, to offer a bridge to the arugula.
Recipe: Warm Steak Salad with Marinara Sauce
In spite of its name, Petite Sirah isn’t little, and it’s not Syrah. A hearty wine, often with big textures (it can have tannin
in spades) and deep fruit, it’s a match for casual, big-flavored foods.
We love it with retro ground-beef chili piled onto Fritos, with all the fixings.
Recipe: Frito Pie with Red Chili
Sauvignon Blanc is one of those wines that makes you want a glass in the middle of a hot summer day, so a sandwich is called for to match.
Our croissants filled with chicken salad seasoned with plenty of lemon and herbs make the most of Sauvignon Blanc’s green herb and citrus personality.
Recipe: Tangy Lemon-Cucumber Chicken Salad Croissants
One of Sauvignon Blancs classic flavors is grapefruit, so you can’t go wrong in a pairing by mixing some of the juice with seafood.
The double citrus on this shrimp goes an extra mile to pick up on the refreshing tartness in the wine.
Recipe: Grapefruit-Rosemary Shrimp
A tenderloin is so, well, tender that a massive Cabernet Sauvignon can overpower it.
Wrap those same dark cassis, cherry, mint, chocolate, and cedar flavors in the softer tannins of Merlot ― gentler cousin to Cabernet ― and you have an inspired match.
Recipe: Plum Creek Cellars Grilled Tenderloin
The only possible downside to fresh tomatoes in the summer is that there aren’t many wines that are happy in the marriage.
Good news, though: Dry rosé is on a roll in the West. With the earthy, spicy, fruitiness of a red wine and the crispness of a white, it sets off sweet, zippy tomatoes in every way.
Recipe: French Tomato Tart