Enjoying red wine during the summer barbecue season usually involves imbibing fruit-forward or jammy offerings. The more austere and stately wines hibernate in the cellar (how smart, actually, during this torrid 2012 summer), waiting for the autumn chill and an unveiling at the candlelit dining room table.
Still, not every day is a dust-bowl-meets-a-hair-dryer, so go ahead and fire up the grill on the more temperate evenings – when it’s below 90F. There are of course, those who might have gotten rusty at the craft of barbecuing while sitting inside refrigerating themselves. And, of course, some minds tend to wander (note to self), and this is often when something on the barbecue takes a little too much direct heat. An overly thick plume of smoke will indicate something’s a little off.
Yes, those once-symmetrical grill marks might resemble a branded hide. And that fancy rosemary sprig? It looks like a pyro’s mini Christmas tree. As long as the char is minimized and the morsel is still juicy, a meal is far from ruined.
This is the time where one needs to be nimble with their wine offerings. Perhaps in a more lucid moment, think ahead and break out a little something different in the genre of barbecue-friendly wines. No, that doesn’t mean brushing the dust off the cellar dwellers, subjecting them to heat stroke. Rather, switch to something more muscular – with the heft to break through the unintended crust. Here are a few value-priced suggestions for those who allow their tongs and spatulas to take an extended break:
Ricardelle Alencades Languedoc 2009: The region in France known as Languedoc often gets derided as the country’s “wine lake.” But this all-hand-harvested blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Marselan is a booming wine with compelling earthiness and dusty tannins. Just terrific with a New York Strip that’s received a little extra char. $17.
Vesevo Campania Beneventano Aglianico 2009: A red grape that’s native to southern Italy, Aglianico is a toothsome, brooding red, with an almost-leathery character. The Vesevo also puts forth a floral aroma; on the palate are lots of blackberries on steroids. In addition, note a more-than-intriguing spiciness. Well-seasoned lamb, whether ground in patties, or as robust lamb sausage with peppers, would be nice fellow travelers with this gem. $15.
Wrongo Dongo Monastrell 2009: Monastrell is what the Spanish call Mourvèdre, which is the grape that gives the backbone to French wines of the Rhône Valley (it complements Grenache quite nicely when blended). The Wrongo Dongo has big, yet not-so-forward fruit, plus long, balanced tannins. And, says Don Hupp of Que Syrah, “this is one of Monastrell’s more powerful versions.” $13.