5 Simple Summer Food and Wine Pairings

The lazy days of summer call for menus that are simple and delicious. For some, this makes wine pairings difficult: what does one pair with some of the lighter fruit flavors that accompany so many warm weather dishes? When done well, many wines pair beautifully with simple summer dishes. Try these humble yet delicious recipes at your next summer soirée.

Garlic and pepper scallops with Chardonnay

Scallops tend to be overlooked on barbecues menus, which is a shame since they cook quickly and are delicious and easy to prepare. Coat the scallops with a garlic-infused olive oil and top with freshly cracked black pepper for a quick and easy appetizer. Pair with a white wine that has enough body to stand up to the scallops, but also has a satin finish that matches the beautiful texture of scallops. A Chardonnay that has gone through malolactic fermentation (resulting in a rounder mouthfeel) is a great pairing as long as the wine retains the finesse and bright acidity that scallops deserve.

We suggest: 2016 Elysian Chardonnay

Grilled peaches and Viognier

Pineapple once seemed to be the only fruit one could grill. How times have changed: these days, everything from peaches to watermelons are served up during the summer with delicious grill marks and charred flavor.

Grilling brings out the natural sugars in fruits. When pairing, take this into consideration: sometimes, a sweet dessert wine will conflict with the sweetness of grilled fruit (rather than complement it). Instead, consider a lighter white wine that has a touch of sweetness and aromas of apricot and flowers–such as a Gewurztraminer or a Riesling–or a more full-bodied white wine, like Viognier. The floral and tropical aromas of Viognier pair well with this delicious stone fruit dessert: top the peaches with either creamy mascarpone, vanilla ice cream, or almond ice cream for a perfect flavor pairing that provides a contrast of creaminess and acidity.

We suggest: 2014 Domaine Richard Condrieu “L’Amaraze”

Avocado bacon burgers with Merlot

What should you pair with a burger? In most cases, it depends on your toppings and condiments. Merlot is a great option: it pairs well with most cheeses and holds up to the sweetness of sauces like ketchup. We suggest an avocado bacon burger with Merlot because the smoothness of avocado works well with the softness of Merlot; the fruit and earth tones of Merlot also work well with the smokiness of the bacon.

We suggest: 2015 “Le More” Corte Figaretto Merlot

Sweet grilled shrimp and Rosé

Start your barbecue off with a simple yet delicious pairing: sweet shrimp and Rosé wine. The weight of a rosé wine can vary: some are light and crisp, while others are more full-bodied and fruit-forward. Simple grilled shrimp is a forgiving pairing: no matter the style of your Rosé, it will most likely complement the shrimp beautifully. Consider using a sweet/spicy sauce combination when flavoring the shrimp, such as a mango chutney glaze or a coconut, chili, and lime marinade.

We suggest: 2017 Charles Tyrand Rosé

Marinated tri-tip and Sangiovese

A delicious tri-tip marinade will tick many flavor “boxes”–herbaceous, sweet, spicy, and earthy. Pairing can be difficult, as a fruit-forward and full-bodied red wine can overpower some of the more subtle notes of marinades or rubs; in contrast, bold pepper and smoke flavors will overpower a more delicate red. For a meat with a complex marinade, stick with an Old World grape like Sangiovese, which exudes the same earth tones (tobacco, smoke, and cedar). The pleasant cherry notes of Sangiovese will brighten the meat and work well with spicy and peppery flavors.

We suggest: 2013 Marchesi Gondi Pain dei Sorbi Chianti Rufina Riserva