BBQ-Tips: Grill & chill

What to pour when you’re cooking out.

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BBQ-Tips: Grill & chill

One good thing about a drought is that you know your plans for a cookout won’t get rained out. So take advantage of the dry spell. Move your kitchen outdoors, along with your wine fridge and corkscrew, and try some of these summer grilling ideas.

Oysters & Pinot Grigio

Make sure your oysters are live when you buy them; they should be tightly clamped shut. Dead oysters will have loose or half-open shells. Scrub the shells under cold water with a brush. Discard any open or broken shells. Throw oysters on the grill; they’ll pop right open when done. Shuck ‘em and serve with melted butter, your favorite hot sauce and lemon wedges.

Wash your oysters down with a glass of Graffigna Centenario Pinot Grigio from Argentina. This wine is fresh and young with refreshing flavors of peach and apricot, which give it roundness in the mouth, but don’t take away from a nice, crisp, clean finish.

Guacamole & Sauvignon Blanc

You don’t need a grill for guacamole, but you do need something to tide you over while you wait for the grill to do its thing. Use three Haas avocados that are nicely ripened (overripe avocados have lost their flavor). Scoop avocado meat into bowl, add ¼ to ½ cup of chopped, fresh cilantro, a teaspoon of coarse sea salt and a couple of teaspoons of lime juice. Blend ingredients together by mashing up the avocado mixture until smooth.

Cleanse the palate with a sip of Line 39 Lake County Sauvignon Blanc. This Sauvignon Blanc has lots of citrus flavors, which enhance the cilantro in the guacamole. No feeling parched with this wine; its crisp acidity invigorates the taste buds and cools down the palate.

Burgers, Dogs & Carmenère

Everyone has a burger recipe of their own. Try prepping the meat the night before to intensify flavors, and don’t forget the egg and bread crumbs! As for hot dog do’s and don’ts, there are definitely two camps: 1. Dog is done when plumped out and juicy. 2. Dog isn’t done until charred.

I’m firmly entrenched in the second camp, but hot dog arguments (mustard? relish? chili? ketchup? onions?) can be worse than politics. Luckily, whether you do burgers or dogs, there’s no argument that Lapostolle Casa Carmenère from Chile is the liquid to pour. Carmenère is Chile’s signature grape and is the wine to serve when you want a comparable substitute to Cabernet or Merlot. You’ll get bold, earthy flavors and fresh red fruit. I’d stay away from mustard on the burger or dogs when serving this wine. Instead, try it with mushroom-topped burgers or chili dogs.

Grilled Fruit & Sangria

Grilling fruit diversifies its natural flavors. Nothing is easier than grilling pineapple. No special prep; just lop off the top and bottom, and slice. (You don’t even have to remove the rind.) Then, throw slices on the grill. But spray the grates with oil or non-stick cooking spray beforehand. Otherwise, you’ll have bits of pineapple stuck to the grate.

If you haven’t yet tried grilled watermelon, now is the time for a taste. A little more work is involved, but it’s certainly worth the effort. Slice watermelon into wedges, and lightly sprinkle salt on both sides. Stand the wedges on their edges on a rack over a sink, and let them drain for half an hour. Then, they are ready to head for the coals. Again, make sure you prep the grates so the watermelon wedges slide off easily.

While you’re deciding if you’re in the mood to eat the grilled watermelon alone, drizzled with balsamic vinegar or atop a bed of arugula with goat cheese, pour yourself a glass of Eppa Supra Fruta Sangria. A refreshing glass of fruity sangria in the middle of a dry spell is just what the doctor ordered. This sangria is made from Cabernet and Syrah with pomegranate, blueberry, Mediterranean blood orange and açai juices blended in.

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