Memorial Day is right around the corner, and if you’re planning a cookout or other gathering, you must make sure your food and wine pairings are solid. You don’t want to be known as the person who mixed red wine with light meat or vice versa, do you?
Every person who comes to your gathering will have their wine preferences, but you must make sure you have the “must-haves” to avoid being a laughingstock.
Read on to learn about the best foods to pair with specific wines and go from there.
Memorial Day Staples
If you’re having a gathering or cookout for Memorial Day, make sure to cook the usual suspects. If you do, no matter how picky a guest is, they’ll have options. Plan a menu that involves hot dogs, grilled chicken, ribs, and hamburgers, and include delicious sides such as corn and potato salad, baked beans, and vegetable kebabs.
Hamburgers are a common, juicy, and delicious choice for a cookout, no matter the holiday. No matter if you’re a meat-eater or vegetarian, you’ll want to pair it with the best wine possible.
Some of the best wines for hamburgers are Cabernets, Syrahs, or Malbecs—this is because these wines offer firm tannins that will pair well with the fattiness of the meat. Additionally, these wines tend to offer fruitier aftertastes, which go well with the smoky nature of a cookout hamburger. If your burger is less juicy, you could get by with white wine, but be prepared for wine snobs to naysay this choice.
Because hot dogs tend to be hearty and salty, they need a wine that has lighter acids and tannins, such as a zippy white wine or a light-bodied red. However, if you’re loading your dog with as many condiments as it can hold, you can pair your heavier dog with a Zinfandel or Grenache.
No cookout is complete without ribs! Ribs are a great staple to make any carnivore at your cookout happy. No matter if you use pork ribs or beef ribs, you’ll want to make sure you're pairing them with the proper wine—a hearty red will get the job done. Bordeaux, Barolos, and even Zinfandels can do lots of work and pull stunning flavors from your meat. If you want to enhance your ribs, wine is the way.
Grilled chicken is a great option for the people at your party who don’t like red meats. Chicken on the grill can taste just as good as succulent ribs, however, especially when you put it with the proper wine. Chicken tends to work best with white wines, so check out a Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or Riesling. You could also pair the chicken—if it has a lighter flavor—with a sparkling rosé.
No matter what you’re serving at your cookout, having the right wine for it is one of the most important things you can do. Make sure to have a wide variety if possible so that your guests can pick and choose what suits their fancy.
If you are interested in checking out a family-owned winery in Napa Valley, be sure to check out ELLMAN Family Vineyards - ELLMAN specializes in home-grown Napa Valley wine that honors the traditions of the community to go along with their love and appreciation for the land around them. One of the most beautiful wineries in Napa, they also work with the winemaker Andy Erickson to curate the best wines imaginable. You can find out how to sign up for the ELLMAN mailing list on this page or find out how to visit them here.
Here are some other great blogs to check out to learn how to find the perfect pairing for your Memorial Day festivities: