It’s official! This week marks the start of long-awaited summer. And what says summer more than basking in the red-hot light of the barbecue? It’s our favorite time of year to kick back, relax, and enjoy a tipple, so we’ve selected some stellar wines and spirits that we feel highlight the nuance of what barbecue brings to the table, in all its depth and versatility. Read on for a comprehensive list of what to drink with which popular summer grilled delight, because everyone’s biggest summer problem should be finding enough time to have enough barbecues.
Mezcal Vago Elote
Perfect with grilled corn, vegetables, and stone fruits, this is a very rare and unique mezcal, even by mezcal standards, and the first of its kind to make it across the border. To produce this unforgettable spirit, Aqulinio Garcia Lopez infuses his espadin mezcal with roasted sweet corn for a week and then distills it for a third time. The result is intoxicating, with notes of tropical fruits, vanilla, earth, and smoke.
“Deshora” Cava Brut Bodega Aranleón NV
We see no better pairing for your grilled greens than this Cava from Valencía, a rare treat. Aromas of quince and pear dominate in this dry sparkler, which will not disappoint.
Talisker Storm Scotch
You might be surprised to see us pairing Scotch with shellfish—and oysters, no less!—but trust us; we have the inside scoop. This special-release will not disappoint lovers of this distillery. The Storm bottling offers up a rich, slightly bigger, and creamier style compared to the 10-year. Strong fruit at first like banana and apples are complemented by salt, and a good dash of campfire smoke. A great dram that reminds you how versatile Scotch can be.
FAIR Quinoa Vodka
If you’re looking for a more delicate spirit for smoked or grilled fish, this is your new main squeeze. FAIR Vodka is produced using quinoa that has been cultivated by over 1,200 small producers in the Bolivian Altiplano. This is the first fair-trade certified vodka in the world. The quality of the spirit shines through with its soft gently sweet profile, finishing with hints of toasted cereal.
“Blanc” Deneufbourg 2011
White, meaty fish like halibut require expressive but delicate pairings that will not overwhelm the fish. This is the perfect wine for such occasions, a fragrant, dry Muscat à Petits Grains that isn’t typically made in the south of France as a monovarietal wine, but is done quite brilliantly at the Deneufbourg winery. This wine is exotic, with lychee aromas, citrus, and pineapple.
P’tit Paysan Rosé of Mourvèdre 2013
Salmon lovers need not stick to Pinot Noir. This lovely pink wine will hold up to this fleshier fish and its accompanying grill marks. Made by rising star winemaker Ian Brand, this rosé is made from 100% Mourvèdre from a vineyard composed of heavy limestone soils. Great, lush texture with strawberry, tulip flower, and a touch chalky mineral. A refreshing rosé to make your day brighter.
Roero Arneis, Fillipo Gallino 2012
What would a barbecue be without chicken? And all great, crispy, smoky chicken deserves a great bottle by its side. The Arneis grape makes some of the most enjoyable white wines in Piedmont. It’s redolent of pears, chamomile, and white flowers, all of which complement the complex flavors of the grill.
Barr Hill Tom Cat Barrel Aged Gin
Winner, winner, chicken dinner. Chicken will sing with the first-ever release of aged gin from this outstanding producer (and an exclusive batch made specifically for us). The local juniper berries and raw honey that Todd Hardie has been cultivating for the past 30 years are the start of the show here. The nose is a wonderful back and forth of invigorating floral juniper, which complements the fresh wood notes perfectly. The texture is luscious at first but shifts gears on the mid-palate to show off flavors of clementines, banana, caramel, and sawdust, coming full circle to the extended piney, juniper finish.
Bianco Beli Grici, Renato Keber 2010
Pork has found its true companion in this unique orange wine from Renato Keber, who makes white wines from Collio, Friuli in a style that’s meant for the cellar. Keber is by no means a mainstream producer; his wines are complex and unadulterated. Drink with a slight chill.
George Dickel Single Barrel Whiskey
Grilled meat, whiskey, and a slathering of barbecue sauce is such an obvious pairing that we almost don’t want to mention it—but not mentioning it would be silly. This whiskey’s older age makes it distinctive with meats with a little more flavor and funk. The distillery’s hallmark notes of wet corn mash, peanut shell, and fudge are all there, followed by roasted hazelnuts, marzipan, and poached pears. Flavors of buttered toast, dark vanilla, and licorice melt on the palate. Perhaps the most impressive part is the unbelievable texture, which is incredibly soft and mellow.
Rossese di Dolceacqua Rondelli 2011
Steak, we have not forgotten you. We have something for every meat eater, and this wine is the ideal steak-on-the-grill pairing. The Rossese grape variety thrives in Liguria and is especially compelling alongside flavorful cuts of steak like flank and skirt. Reminiscent of a fuller-bodied Pinot Noir in this vintage, with aromas of roses, wild strawberries, and gentle spices.