The countdown is on. There are 66 days left this summer. It may be hot as hell in the district, but that shouldn't stop you from soaking up the sun and taking advantage of these last few weeks of prime grilling season.
What's a summer barbecue without great friends, good food and of course, libations? If you want to impress your guests, put back that case of beer and pop open a bottle of vino instead. Wine will take your barbecue experience to new heights, and your guests will be gushing over your party for the rest of the season.
I've put together a superb menu of grilled perfection and wine suggestions to add that extra punch to the flavors of summer.
Starter: Grilled Shrimp with Oregano & Lemon
This shrimp recipe is the perfect appetizer. The shrimp’s natural sweetness and the zesty flavor from the lemon will pair with a number of crisp white wines.
Burger: Smoked Gouda and Bacon Burger with Red Wine Barbecue Sauce Allow me to get all Anthony Bourdain on you: This mouthwatering burger is the epitome of sinful decadence while always being a gateway to flavor heaven. The smoked nuttiness of the melted Gouda cheese amplifies the bacon flavor and the smothering tanginess of the red wine barbecue sauce, making this hunk of meat an instant crowd pleaser. Your party just shut down.
Veggies: Grilled Corn with Aleppo-Pepper Aioli
When a slab of butter just doesn’t cut it, kick your traditional corn on the cob up notch in spiciness and flavor with this grilled corn and hot pepper aioli recipe.
Side Dish: Bacon Chipotle Potato Salad
The show-stopping burger you're serving up calls for a side dish that can hold its own. That's exactly what this potato salad brings to the table. The smoky bacon matches the flavors in the burger, while the chipotle peppers add a fiery punch that will leave your taste buds wanting more.
Sweet Treat: Skewered Strawberry & Marshmallow S'mores
Take your guests back to their summer camp days with this spin on the classic childhood favorite. They'll be asking for s'more of these grilled berry and dark chocolate treats.
Decoy Sauvignon Blanc ($17)
The bright citrus flavors and mouthwatering acidity of the Decoy make for a great pairing with the shrimp.
Pacific Rim Dry Riesling ($10)
Pair the sweet and spicy flavors of the corn with a subtly sweet white wine such as a Riesling. The Pacific Rim offers light sweetness and aromas of pear and apple that will complement both the sweetness of the corn and the spiciness of the aioli.
Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel ($12)
This is your Moment of Zin. With its peppery and bold fruit flavors, Zinfandel is the perfect wine pairing to complement your audacious burger and flavorful potato salad. Check out this Bogle Old Vine version for an in-your-face (in a good way) wine experience. And get two bottles; you’ll need extra vino for the red wine barbecue sauce.
Veritas Sparkling Rosé ($16)
Pair the s’mores with this Rosé to cap the evening with wine from DC's backyard. The red fruit notes will complement the strawberry and balance the rich chocolate perfectly.
Most importantly, remember that wine is best when shared. Your guests will love if you share in the fun of your menu planning. They'll appreciate knowing why wine is your go-to for barbecued food.
What are your favorite recipes and wines for summer?
Justin is a native Washingtonian, certified wine professional, and founder of Vinolovers.com, a DC-based startup that is modernizing the wine subscription club by creating a buying experience that is personalized to your taste. You can follow Justin on Twitter via @jharrison233 and Vinolovers via @Vinolovers.