Where there's smoke, there can be great wine

KAREN MACNEIL-FIFE,  – September 14, 2004

From Chile to Japan, the grill is a cook’s tool of choiceworldwide. So it seems appropriate to ask: what makes a wine greatwith grilled foods across an international spectrum? Four factorsin the wine are especially important: acidity, to cut throughspicy, smoky flavors; boldness, to stand up to them; spiciness, tomirror them; and fruitiness, to cushion them.

A wine needn’t have all four of these attributes to pair wellwith grilled foods, but one or more will increase the chances of agood marriage. Here are eight great grill mates from around theworld.


E. Guigal Condrieu 2002 (Condrieu, Rhône Valley,France), $38. Exotic honeysuckle, tropical fruit, and nut flavorsmake this Viognier fascinating with Thai, Indian, and Indonesiandishes.

Fresco Extra Dry Sparkling Wine by Chandon (Argentina), $12.With its slightly exotic notes and persistent bubbles, thisArgentinean sister of France’s Moët & Chandon andCalifornia’s Domaine Chandon is great with spicy appetizers.

Nautilus Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2002 (Marlborough, NewZealand), $17. A fabulous interplay of spicy green peppercorn andtropical pineapple and mango flavors.

Pierre Sparr Pinot Gris Reserve 2001 (Alsace, France), $15.Bold, lush, and creamy, with peach and almond flavors and notes ofcitrus ― perfect for Indian or Southeast Asian seafood.


Bodegas Agapito Rico Carchelo 2002 (Jumilla, Spain), $8.Very fruity, with deep, dark berry flavors and a chocolaty finish.Fabulous with hamburgers.

Condado de Haza 2000 (Ribera del Duero, Spain), $16. Apowerhouse, with rugged blackberry, black plum, and licoriceflavors and an almost syrupy texture. Made for meaty shortribs.

Domaine le Sang des Cailloux Vacqueyras 2001 (Vacqueyras,Southern Rhône Valley), $25. Le sang des cailloux means “theblood of the stones” ― fitting for this deep, dark, spicywine with hints of chocolate, espresso, and leather. Red meatrequired.

Stonehaven Limestone Coast Shiraz 1999 (Australia), $13. Abig, fleshy Shiraz is always a shoo-in with grilled meats. This oneis rich with cocoa, vanilla, and plush blackberry flavors, with anice grip of tannin. Try it with lamb or beef.

Sunset’s Wine Club

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