If there is one weekend that offers up the grill’s rite of passage, it’s Memorial Day Weekend. The beginning of the season on Nantucket—the beginning of the summer.
At my barbecues, we always start with a cocktail. Though I love a good G & T, you’ll usually find me mixing up something with a few more ingredients. My friends will quickly tell you what the staples are, but there is one cocktail in particular that always makes its way to the table. The White Lady. Invented by Harry MacElhone, a bartender at Ciro’s Club in London, there are various versions of this drink, but this is my favorite recipe. In a cocktail shaker combine 1½ oz. of Caorunn Gin (a small batch gin from Scotland), 1 oz. of orange liqueur (I use Bauchant), ¾ oz. of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and an egg white. Shake vigorously and strain into a cocktail glass.
Now you’re ready to get the party started. Whether you’re sipping seaside on a boat during Figawi or firing up your barbecue for the first time this season, simple, delicious, affordable wines fit the bill.
Here are six easy-drinking grill-worthy greats for your next backyard barbecue:
The 2012 MontGravet Côtes de Gascogne from France is brought to us by the folks who craft the Tortoise Creek wines. They don’t disappoint with this zippy white from the Gascony region, near the city of Toulouse in southwest France. The wine takes its name from the “Mont” or hills where the vines are grown and the “Gravet,” which are oval rocks commonly found in the area. Made from 100% Colombard grapes, this is a perfect spring white with exotic fruit aromas, fresh citrus flavors, and balanced acidity. Oysters, anyone?
If you’re looking for something a little richer to pair with your grilled fare the 2013 Yalumba “Y” Series Viognier from Australia will seal the deal. Yalumba is Australia’s oldest family-owned winery from the Barossa Valley. This 100% Viognier offers up classic aromas of white flowers and stone fruit. It has bright flavors of pineapple, figs, and honeysuckle with a hint of citrus on the finish. Sip this one with grilled fish!
It’s no secret that we drink a lot of pink wine on Nantucket and this just might be your perfect porch pour. The 2013 ZÜM Rosé hails from vineyards in the rolling hills of Germany’s Nahe region (located along the River Nahe). A delicious rosé made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes, it’s a light pink color in the glass and is loaded with fresh mineral notes and bright flavors of cranberries and ripe strawberries. Take this one to the beach or pair it with grilled vegetables or pork chops rubbed with rosemary.
Perfect for parties, grilled pizzas are one of my favorite summertime meals. The 2012 Castello Vicchiomaggio Ripa delle Mandorle Toscana IGT would be a natural pair. According to Italy’s history books, the Vicchiomaggio Castle, located in the heart of the Chianti Classico area, dates back to 1400. Years later, it became an exclusive Manor House of the Renaissance period and took its original name from the word Maggio (May). A blend of 75% Sangiovese and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, they have been producing wine on the estate for years. You’ll get savory red fruit flavors intertwined with hints of fresh herbs and notes of spice.
For those of you who want something a little heartier, this one’s for you. A medium to full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon from the Languedoc region in France, this domaine sits on the ruins of an ancient Roman villa. The 2011 Villa des Anges Cabernet Sauvignon Vin de Pays d’Oc from France is made by winemaker Jeff Carrel and has bright fruit aromas that spill from the glass. This wine is fresh, yet has structure and concentration and on the palate shows off flavors of black cherry, plum, and spice.
And for the real barbecue aficionado try the 2012 Senorio Barahonda ‘Carro’ Tinto from the up-and-coming Spanish appellation of Yecla. A blend of 50% Monastrell (Mourvedre), 30% Syrah, 12% Merlot, and 8% Tempranillo, it’s packed with ripe raspberry flavors alongside notes of spice and a hint of leather. Its bright, juicy and jammy fruit flavors make it a natural with dishes you would serve at a picnic or backyard barbecue—think pulled pork sandwiches, grilled burgers, or ribs.
What I love best about the flavors of the grill is that they allow us to introduce a variety of flavors in our glass. From the beginning cocktail to the easy drinking white that matches with local seafood or the char of a steak that we pair with rich reds. So whatever grill you fire up over Memorial Day Weekend, grab a glass, pull a cork, and savor the flavors of the grill.
Brix Wine Shop is located at 1 Windy Way, just off of Surfside Road; www.brixwineshop.com; 508-228-9123