• Food and Wine

Pairing Wine with Your End of Summer Barbecue

There’s no shortage of options when it comes to pairing Washington wine with whatever you choose to grill on the barbecue.

By Bob Harrington

One of my favorite things about summer is grilling a variety of foods on the barbecue.  Fresh summer vegetables and all types of proteins provide great summer dining.  As we get to the end of summer, it is time to celebrate the last of the summer season and bring in the fall with football, food and, of course, Washington wine.

Chelan Estate 2012 Pinot Noir.

Barbecue grilling adds additional texture, color and flavor to meat, fish and vegetables.  The old adage: “red wine with meat and white wine with fish” has more to do with the combination of protein type and cooking method rather than the color of the wine or protein.

Therefore, cooking pork, poultry or fish on the barbecue grill adds additional flavor intensity and, more importantly, body intensity compared to using other cooking methods such as poaching, sautéing or braising.  As such, grilling lighter foods allows successful pairing with fuller-bodied wines than what would otherwise overpower these food items.

For instance, grilled pork or chicken can be more successfully paired with light to medium-bodied red varietals such as Sangiovese, Lemberger, Dolcetto, Tempranillo, Barbera or Pinot Noir.  Grilled wild salmon becomes a classic match with Pinot Noir.  Rob and Barbara Crooke of Crooked Acres Vineyard and Winery in Underwood, WA. (Columbia Gorge AVA) make a Pinot Noir that pairs nicely with wild grilled salmon, as does Chelan Estate Winery in Chelan, WA. (Chelan Valley AVA). Both wines are priced at around $30.

Since it’s the end of summer, many died-in-the-wool grillers will want to throw a steak on the barbecue before fall and cold weather arrive, and pair it with a full-bodied, red wine. One of my favorite, melt-in- the-mouth recipes is “Grilled New York Steak with Battuto and Anchovy Butter.” Batutto is a traditional Italian base component that adds flavor to any dish.  The batutto di lardo in this recipe adds additional flavor and succulence to the meat with the addition of pork fat back, herbs and garlic.  To finish the dish, a compound anchovy butter is used to layer additional flavors after grilling the steak.

New York Steaks Rubbed with Batutto Lardo and Vegetables on the Grill (photo courtesy of Maegan Murray)

  • Recipe for Grilled New York Steak with Battuto and Anchovy Butter (serves six)
    4 lbs. New York strip steak (about 10-11 ounces each)
    Battuto di lardo (3 oz. fat back, 3 cloves garlic, 2 oz. parsley, 2 oz. onions)
    Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    Salt and black pepper
    Anchovy butter
    1 tablespoon chopped anchovy fillets in oil, drained
    1/2 shallot, minced
    1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
    1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
    2 tablespoons equal parts chopped parsley, tarragon and chives
    1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

In a skillet, combine the anchovies, shallots and vinegar.  Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the anchovies break down and the vinegar has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Mash the anchovies with a wooden spoon. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and let cool to room temperature. Add the butter, herbs and pepper and mix well. Scrape the butter onto a sheet of parchment paper and roll into a log or pack into an airtight container.
Grilled vegetables in season – asparagus, peppers, radicchio, zucchini, eggplant, etc.
Grilled polenta – prepare polenta and chill in advance, cut into desired shapes, brush with EVOO and grill, serve with fresh grated Parmesan.
1. Cut steaks into 10-11 ounce portions and trim as desired; brush with EVOO and season with salt and pepper.
2. Finely mince the fat back, garlic, parsley and onions with a knife or in a food processor.  Pat this mixture on both sides of the steaks.
3. Prepare anchovy butter as described above and reserve.
4. Heat BBQ grill to high heat; grill steaks (to desired doneness), vegetables and polenta.
5. Once cooked, place on plate and brush with anchovy butter.  Serve as whole steaks or let rest for about 10 minutes then slice and present as in the photo below.

Plated New York steak and vegetables finished with anchovy butter (photo courtesy of Maegan Murray).

The pairing of grilled steak and full-bodied red wine provides some interesting affinity.  First, there is the body-to-body match perception creating an equal partner of food to wine.  Second, the marbled fat in the steak (and in this case the batutto) smooths out the tannin in red wine — making it seem not supple, smooth and, in the case of a young red, more mature.  At the same time, the tannin assists in cleansing the palate of a fatty mouthfeel and refreshes the mouth for the next bite.

Of course, there are a number of great options for pairing wine with this grilled steak dish including Washington red blends, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Merlot, or Syrah to name a few.  Below are a couple of my personal recommendations:

2014 CoDinn Syrah and 2014 Tertulia Cellars Carménère

2014 Co Din, Syrah – Roskamp Vineyard Block Two, Snipes Mountain (about $50) –  Syrah is one of my favorite varietals produced in Washington.  Co Dinn’s example provides a nice layering of additional flavors with aromas of cocoa, allspice and dried cherries.  Firm tannins and a juicy finish create a nice partner for this dish and end of summer celebration.

2014 Tertulia Cellars Carménère (about $48) – This wine has complementary aromas and flavors of smoked vanilla bean, charred veggies, black peppercorns, chewy tannins, black berries and a hint of licorice.  This wine creates an equal partner and layers of flavors to pair with that grilled New York Steak.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Robert Harrington is Professor in Hospitality Business Management at the Washington State University Tri-Cities campus in Richland, WA.. He is the author of the book, “Food and Wine Pairing: A Sensory Experience.” His current teaching and research interests include food and drink pairing, creating memorable experiences and culinary innovation. He can be contacted at rharrington@wsu.edu.