Perfect Summer Pairings: Red Wine and Seasonal Dishes

Jul 09, 2024Kristin Olszewski
Perfect Summer Pairings: Red Wine and Seasonal Dishes

When the warm days of summer arrive, many people instinctively reach for chilled white or rosé wines to complement their meals. However, red wine can also be a fantastic companion to summer dishes if you choose the right varietals and pair them thoughtfully. Whether you’re firing up the grill or preparing a fresh salad, there’s a red wine that can elevate your culinary experience. I will add, though, that I suggest always going with YOUR favorite, because truthfully, there is no wrong pairing!

Light Reds for Grilled Dishes

Summer is synonymous with grilling, and light red wines such as Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, and Grenache are excellent choices to pair with grilled foods. These wines are often served slightly chilled, which makes them refreshing for warmer weather while still bringing out the rich, smoky flavors of grilled meats and vegetables. Pinot Noir pairs beautifully with grilled salmon or chicken, offering a balance of bright acidity and soft tannins. Beaujolais, with its fruity and floral notes, complements grilled vegetables and pork, while Grenache’s bold berry flavors stand up well to spiced and marinated dishes.

Bold Reds for Hearty Summer Fare

For more substantial summer fare like burgers, steaks, or barbecued ribs, opt for bolder red wines such as Zinfandel, Syrah, or Malbec. These wines have the body and structure to match the intense flavors of hearty meats. Zinfandel’s spicy and jammy profile pairs wonderfully with barbecued ribs, adding a layer of complexity to the smoky sweetness of the sauce. Syrah’s dark fruit flavors and peppery notes enhance the savory richness of a grilled steak, while Malbec’s plum and blackberry characteristics complement juicy, char-grilled burgers.

Red Wines for Vegetarian and Vegan Dishes

Summer is also the season for an abundance of fresh vegetables and plant-based meals, and red wine can be an excellent partner here as well. Lighter reds like Gamay or Cinsault pair nicely with vegetable-based dishes, from grilled portobello mushrooms to hearty grain salads. Gamay, with its bright red fruit and floral notes, enhances the natural sweetness of roasted root vegetables, while Cinsault’s soft tannins and berry flavors are a great match for Mediterranean-inspired dishes like ratatouille or stuffed peppers. These versatile wines can be enjoyed slightly chilled, making them refreshing yet flavorful companions to your summer vegetarian and vegan meals.

By carefully selecting and pairing red wines with your summer dishes, you can create a delightful dining experience that highlights the best of both the season's bounty and the richness of red wine. Cheers to enjoying red wine all summer long!