Memorial Day weekend is one of the first and best barbecue weekends of the summer season. With temperatures typically still in the bearable range, the weekend offers the perfect setting to grill a variety of delicious foods to be enjoyed with friends, family and of course, a glass of wine or a cold beer.
But you may want to take a moment before stocking up on your favorite beverages for the weekend's feasts and festivities. Just as you wouldn't order a side of chow mein with your bacon cheeseburger, there are considerations to be made when pairing drinks with grilled food.
Patrick McLennan of Ella Dining Room and Bar and Kyle Middlebrooks of Pangaea Two Brews Cafe recommended numerous wines and beers to complement the staples of the Memorial Day menu. McLennan, a dining room manager at Ella, suggested the following food and wine pairings:
"Definitely a red. Depending on the toppings, you could go with a Barossa Valley Shiraz or a California Cabernet, or even a California Zinfandel. Something with nice spicy characteristics."
"You could go red or white. Generally hot dogs are ground up pork and pork is very versatile. The first thing that pops in my mind is a Chanon Blanc. If you wanted to go red, a Washington Pinot Noir would work nicely. You want something with good structure because you have saltiness and fattiness in the pork and you want a wine to stand up to that with good structure."
"A California Chardonnay. It depends on the seasoning obviously, but something with a little smokiness or oak really goes well with chicken. "
"Keep it red. Steak is super versatile and you could really handpick any red. It's hard to beat a Napa Cabernet. You could also go with a Spanish Temparnillo, an Italian Barbaresco, or an Australian Shiraz. "
"If you're looking at a chop or loin, you want something with a good acid level to back up the saltiness of the pork. Something from the Loire Valley in France or a German Riesling - again, wines with good acid levels."
"When I think of lamb, it's a cuisine eaten a lot in Spain or certain parts of Italy. Generally when I pair a wine, I try to think of regions where the food is typically eaten. A Spanish Temparnillo or an Italian Varietal would work well with lamb. Temparnillo is a good food wine that'll make you want to take another bite, it's very versatile. "
"It's really a no-brainer when it comes to fish. A French Sancerre from the Loire Valley. You could also do a California Sauvignon Blanc or a good California Chardonnay. Something light and crisp with a little more backbone, but nothing too oaky. A Pinot Grigio from the Alsace region in France would also work well."
But what's a Memorial Day without a beer?
For those who can't fathom a sunny Memorial Day weekend without a cold beer, Pangaea bottle shop manager Kyle Middlebroks provided these suggestions on beer styles and specific selections that complement most traditional barbecue favorites:
"Kolsch - Riessdorf Kolsch - A Kolsch is a really, really easy drinking beer. Perfect for someone who likes a Budweiser or Bud Light camping or picnic-type beer. It's not too high in ABV (alcohol by volume) and is really nice to start the meal with."
"Special Ale - Deryck Ale - This is brown spiced ale that's a little heavier with more malt to play off the saltier flavor profile of the hot dog. This is also lighter on the ABV side at about 5.5 percent."
"Belgian Pale Ale - Delirium Tremans -- Pales or blondes are perfect for pairing with lighter meats, just as you'd have white wine with chicken. This one's a little higher on the ABV at 8.5 percent. "
"Abbey Style Ale - Brother Thelonius by North Coast Brewing - This is a really dark, really malty Belgian-style American ale at about 9.5 percent ABV with hints of caramel and an almost dry, chocolate finish. With steak or ribs that are generally rubbed with some kind of spice, you want a darker ale to offset the spice, just as you would a red wine."
"IPA - Spring Reign by Ninkasi Brewing - This is a seasonal floral IPA (India Pale Ale) that's hoppy up front and really good on the nose to deal with the saltiness of the pork. The floral notes in the beer also complement rosemary traditionally used as a seasoning for pork. This one is comes in at about 6 percent ABV."
"Flemish Sour - Cuvee Des Jacobins - This is a sour red ale at about 5.5 percent ABV. It's going to be sour up front and finish with a mellow, velvety raspberry flavor to really offset a richer, gamier meat like lamb."
"Pilsner - Weihenstephaner - A very clean, light beer with a really nice golden color and a very large foamy head. Pilsners mirror what most fishes do, starting very clean and finishing with a signature flavor profile that leaves a more malty and yeasty flavor on the palate."
Whether you opt for the grape or the hop this weekend, News10 encourages you to enjoy your Memorial Day Weekend responsibly.