Pour It On!: Summer Barbecue
Experts pair drinks to round out your favorite warm weather eats
Summer barbecues don't have to just mean grilling up burgers and hot dogs. This season, push the envelope so your diners may enjoy more inventive grilled fare with plenty of drinks.
We asked two beverage experts—Marco Zappia, beverage director for Minneapolis-based Argentine spot Martina and a 2018 Eater Young Guns semifinalist, and Liz Martinez, wine director and sommelier at Detroit steakhouse Prime + Proper, which earned a spot on Wine Enthusiast's 2018 top 100 wine restaurant in the U.S. list — to pair drinks with a variety of dishes.
Grilled mango or peaches to top desserts like pound cake or add to a summer salad with avocado and Fresno chilis:
- Zappia: Wine wise, Moscato or gewürztraminer with a bigger body and slight effervescence and tropical notes.
- Martinez: For the dessert with pound cake, I'd do Moscato because it's light and spritzy. With the salad, a dry Riesling or pinot gris from Alsace with some fruit for the chiles, but not too much because you want to keep it light and summery.
German potato salad with bacon and Dijon mustard:
- Zappia: A lager like Tecate or Victoria with effervescence works with the acid of the Dijon. It's not too malty or hoppy and these beers can balance the starch.
- Martinez: I like something aromatic and sleek here, so a dry Riesling from Alsace.
Scallion baked beans:
- Zappia: A margarita. I think this combination is delicious. You have backyard baked beans with a margarita and it's perfect. I just love the two together. I have no idea why the flavors work.
- Martinez: I wanted something that could play off the barbecue flavors and sweet spice, so I went with Valpolicella that's more playful with the sweet spices and baked beans.
Watermelon, feta and cucumber salad with fresh basil (seasoned with salt, pepper, olive oil):
- Zappia: Rosé all day! The watermelon is super light and refreshing and adding something clean and refreshing is delicious.
- Martinez: Greek moschofilero has fresh acidity with floral and exotic spices. With the feta and freshness of the salad, it would stand up to each very well.
Brown sugar and cayenne pepper-rubbed grilled chicken thighs:
- Zappia: A John Daly—so basically an Arnold Palmer with vodka. The tea, acid, sugar content and non-tannic spirit is what I'd pair with the cayenne rub. The rub has the spice and it balances out with the fresh, light drink.
- Martinez: With cayenne, you need something to round that out and the blackberry-blueberry floral thing in Lambrusco can stand up to that. It's a little spritzy, so it'll be pleasant outside and some sweetness to stand up to the brown sugar.
Tangy pulled pork sandwiches topped with jalapeno-ranch cole slaw:
- Zappia: I like menthol notes with pulled pork, so an old Cuban Cocktail (a mojito that has sparkling wine instead of sparkling water) would work. The contrast of the warm pulled pork and cold cole slaw has an interesting contrast on the palate.
- Martinez: I see a low-hopped IPA working well with this dish, not a lot of bitterness that would fight the other flavors.
Grass-fed beef sharp cheddar burgers made with Worcestershire sauce, egg and crispy onion:
- Zappia: This is a fun one: a gut-wrecking burger with a bottle of bubbles. That effervescence with the acidity helps with digestion and it has a creamy mousse on it.
- Martinez: I was thinking blaufränkisch; you get smoky sweetness for the Worcestershire and something fruity to stand up to the cheddar. It's the right weight and you don't want something huge. The smoky sweetness with something right off the grill, this works with that.