Labor Day Wine Pairings

As we bid a fond farewell to yet another summer season, let’s celebrate with a true labor of love – a great glass of wine paired with our favorite summertime treat! Whether you are firing up the grill this holiday weekend or having a picnic on the beach, we have you covered with an array of wine that will pair perfectly with your feast.

When it comes to pairing, keep in mind that meat is often a blank canvas and finding the perfect wine has everything to do with sauces, spices and other toppings. Here’s a rundown of wine pairing recommendations for some of your favorite summer dishes.

White Wines:

Chicago Style Hot DogSauvignon Blanc – Whether it’s a mineral driven Sancerre, a refined Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc or a bold ruby red grapefruit driven Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, these dry, crisp, acidic wines with layers of citrus and fresh cut grass pairs perfectly with an array of summertime fare including:

  • Salads
  • Shellfish
  • Grilled Salmon
  • Hot Dogs w/ Relish or “Chicago Style”
  • Lemon Chicken
  • Goat Cheese & Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta

Riesling – A touch of residual sugar and piercing acidity make Riesling an exquisite pairing with many dishes including:

  • Sushi w/wasabi
  • Assorted Shellfish (Clams, Oysters, Mussels, Shrimp, Scallops, Crab)
  • Salads
  • BBQ (vinegar based)
  • Fried Chicken
  • Chesapeake Baja Burger 
  • Grilled Peach wrapped in Prosciutto w/Balsamic Glaze

Albarino – This refreshing white wine from Rias Biaxas, Spain offers exotic floral notes & bright citrus with a touch of salinity due to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. Pairs well with:

  • Assorted Shellfish (Clams, Oysters, Mussels, Shrimp, Scallops, Crab)
  • Grilled & Fried Chicken
  • Salads

Muscadet – An inexpensive varietal (most under $12) with citrus, mineral notes & a touch of salinity from the Loire Valley of France, that pairs perfectly with:

  • Assorted Shellfish (Clams, Oysters, Mussels, Shrimp, Scallops, Crab)

Vouvray – Another great wine from the Loire Valley of France, made from the Chenin Blanc grape. Vouvray tends to have a touch of sweetness that makes for an excellent pairing with seafood and foods with a touch of spice. o

  • Assorted Shellfish (Clams, Oysters, Mussels, Shrimp, Scallops, Crab Legs)
  • Crabacado “Shrimp” Rolls
  • Grilled Chicken

Red Wines:

Beaujolais – Similar to a Pinot Noir, this dry fruity red made from the Gamay grape from southern France is a perfect light-medium bodied summer red. Serve slightly chilled with:

  • BBQ Chicken
  • Mushroom Swiss Burgers
  • Grilled Salmon
  • Italian Sandwiches

Pinot Noir  – A classic & elegant medium bodied wine with red fruit notes, a hint of spice & moderate tannins pairs  well with:

  • Mushroom Swiss Burger
  • Cedar Plank Salmon o BBQ Chicken
  • Brie & Raspberry Phyllo Cups

Syrah/Shiraz – The French style from the Rhone Valley boasts more meaty characteristics like bacon, while the Australian and American style are more fruit driven. A young Syrah from northern Rhone tends to have moderate tannins and a little smokiness that goes great with: 

Zinfandel – The high acidity, tannic structure,  jammy notes and hint of spice make Zinfandel a perfect match for:

  • Steaks
  • Bacon Blue Cheeseburgers
  • Baby Back Ribs
  • Chili Cheese Dogs

Tempranillo – Look for Rioja or Tempranillo on the label. Rioja is a region in Spain that makes a full bodied red wine from the Tempranillo grape. This is a versatile, great value red that works with many dishes including:

  • Steak Chimichurri
  • Steak Fajitas
  • Baby Back Ribs
  • Steaks
  • Aged Cheddar Burgers

Rosé Wines: 

This is not your grandmother’s White Zinfandel! A dry rosé is a great bridge wine that pairs well with everything from shrimp salad to cheeseburgers. Rosé is made from an array of red varietals. The common ones are Pinot Noir, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault & Tempranillo. Some winemakers blend in a little white wine to bring out citrus notes in the final product. It’s the best of both worlds, a chilled wine with notes and flavors of red wine that make a great addition to your picnic & barbecue fare

  • Sandwiches
  • Salads
  • Pasta Salad
  • Seafood/Shellfish
  • Fried Chicken
  • Grilled Veggies w/Balsamic Glaze

PAIRING NOTE: If your favorite dish has some spice, stick with a demi-sec sparkling, Riesling with a touch of residual sugar or a fruit forward red with low tannins and lower alcohol. Alcohol exacerbates the heat in your food. Also when it comes to salads, a high acid white wine without oak works well because it mirrors the acidity in most salad dressings. However watch the endive, radichhio & arugula – the spice can leave a bitter taste on your back palate.




Photo Credits:

Chicago Style Hot Dog: <a href=””>star5112</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>