Summer Wine and Food Pairings

By: Rupa Bhattacharya
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It’s summer, which means it’s picnic season – and picnic season means it’s drinking-wine-outside season. Below, a couple classic summer dishes, along with our wine picks for each.

The hot dog/bratwurst/sausage family presents a pairing conundrum. You can either pair wine with the meat itself – in which case, go with Merlot and call it a day – but it’s much more fun to pair with the toppings. Classic hot dog with ketchup? Merlot’s sweetness works nicely here. Bratwurst with onions and mustard? A buttery Chardonnay might work well with the sharp mustard and tangy onions. Italian sausage with peppers and onions? Cabernet or a higher-acid Italian red like Sangiovese would be great. Corn dog? Champagne. Just because.

Caprese salad – once tomato season comes, we’re all Caprese all the time over here. Ripe tomatoes and creamy mozzarella need something fresh and crisp to set them off. So you can pretty much go with any crisp white wine here and be happy, but for bonus points, try and think about what the olive oil in the dressing will taste like. Rich and buttery (like from Italy or Greece)? Then get a Sauvignon Blanc, for grassy contrast. Bright and grassy (like from California)? Go with Pinot Grigio, for the crisp citrus.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

BBQ Ribs: There is no greater barbecue wine than Zinfandel. It’s the wine analogue to classic barbecue sauce – tons of flavor and sweetness – and it’s usually got a big enough presence to hang with rich, fatty cuts. With that said, if you’re looking to go a little more high-minded here, Pinot Noir wouldn’t be out of place. Pinot Noir is the Eastern Carolina barbecue sauce of wine – delicate, with char-friendly acidity – and would do well with dry-rubbed ribs. Both wines differ from barbecue sauce, however, in that no one will think you’re weird if you drink a glass full of either.

Looking for a great wine to get started? Meet entwine, Food Network’s line of wines that are perfect on their own or paired with food.

Now that you know what to drink, check out Summer Central and start enjoying the season.

What dish do you want to know how to pair wine with?
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