The Perfect Local Wines to Accompany Your Summer Feasts
An ice cold beer has been the perennial instinctive beverage of choice when devouring summer’s flagship cuisine—hot dogs, pulled pork sandwiches, potato salad and chips, to name a few. So does that mean wine is off the table at the next barbecue fiesta or poolside party?
Of course not, say Andrew and Denise McCreery, owners of d’Vine Gourmet, a food, wine and gift shop located near Alma School and Chandler Heights roads in south Chandler. Sure, everyone knows that steak and red wine is a match made in pairing heaven. But there are the unexpected couplings ready to be discovered as desert temperatures soar and what’s in your glass and on your plate tend to be lighter.
Andrew, the sommelier, and Denise, the gourmet cook, merge their talents and talk summer eats and the Arizona wines that bring out the best in them.
Dish: Fresh fruit and leafy salads
Wine: Provisioner White
Why: Skip the expected stand-by Chardonnay and opt for this perfect blend of French Colombard, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Gris that begs to be sipped in hot weather and is also versatile enough to go with tricky-to-pair produce. The crisp and floral profile of this mélange is just as comfortable with a salad comprised of tart arugula, sweet strawberries, spicy pecans and creamy goat cheese as it would be alongside a fruit plate packed with melons and apples. “It’s fresh, crisp and has just enough body to go from fresh fruit with yogurt drizzle to a steak salad with blue cheese dressing,” Andrew says.
Dish: Mexican food
Wine: Caduceus Cellars Merkin Vineyards Chupacabra
Why: Everyone reaches for a beer or margarita, but if you’re a wine drinker you’ve got options too. Andrew likes Grenache, a friendly red varietal that’s bold enough to stand up to the heartiest of Mexican dishes and flaunts a soft, velvety finish that calms the spice nicely. This Châteauneuf-du-Pape-inspired blend boasts a composition that’s Grenache-heavy but gets a bit more structure from Syrah and a splash of earthy Mourvèdre, which makes it a good partner for chips and salsa, chicken or steak tacos and even grilled tequila lime shrimp. “Remember, ‘room temperature’ for a red is cooler than most places here in the summer, so don’t be afraid to chill it just enough to be slightly cool and refreshing,” Andrew advises.
Dish: Backyard BBQ
Wine: Arizona Angel Pinot Grigio
Why: Like Mexican cuisine, wine doesn’t necessarily come to mind when pondering what to sip with classic barbecue fare. But this cold Italian varietal is super food friendly and plays well with a diverse lineup of spice levels, flavors and textures exhibited by a spread of pulled pork sammies, hot dogs, brats, potato salad and corn-on-the-cob. “Generally characterized with melon, citrus and honey, this wine will cut through butter, mayo or sticky barbecue sauce very nicely, giving your palate a refreshing cleanse before the next bite,” Andrew says.
Wine: Kokopelli Winery Riesling
Why: Whether you like California rolls or spicy tuna, Riesling is a great choice when sake is not around. Andrew prefers the Arizona-grown versions of this white varietal, which he finds generally not as sweet as those from the grape’s native Germany. “Its fresh pineapple taste and lemon ‘pop’ make it the perfect pairing for almost any sushi or stir fry,” he says. “It pairs nicely with the fish, rice and seasonings and is quite tasty while popping edamame, too!”
Dish: Fritos and fast food snacks
Wine: Su Vino Winery Summer Rain
Why: Summer is all about taking more time to kick back and relax—and occasionally skipping a formal meal in favor of easy and palate-pleasing noshes and nibbles is a popular routine at the McCreery house. This is when Andrew and Denise pop the cork off a light-hearted, fruity summer wine like this Chardonnay-based blend that brings pear, apple and a hint of orange to any poolside lounging or casual party where you’re enjoying salty and crispy munchies. Want to kick it up a notch? “Add it to a blender with a bunch of fresh or frozen fruit, pour it into a glass and top with club soda or Sprite for a fresh and frosty summer wine slushy,” Andrew says.