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Wine pairing tips for summer guests

Posted by Jason Newell, Byerly’s Chanhassen wines and spirits manager
Friday, July 19, 2013

Summer is full of hot weather, vacations, crazy schedules and, of course, hosting out-of-town visitors. Hosting guests in your home can seem daunting, but it can also be a chance to show off your creative side and really show them a good time!


This year, my family is privileged to have a goddess staying with us. OK, not an actual goddess, but she’s the Sauce Goddess! Jen Reynolds is flying in from San Diego for the annual Lunds and Byerly’s BBQ Sauce Samplin’ competition.

Her challenge: grill meats slathered with her fabulous sauce flavors for 1,500 people. My challenge: pick five days of drinks that will please a goddess and match her fantastic array of BBQ sauces.

When I have guests that stay for more than a couple of days, I tend to plan menus that are flexible and easily adaptable to my guest’s tastes. The Sauce Goddess is all about grilling, so each night we’ll be on the deck creating delicious masterpieces.

Whether you have a college roommate or a new friend staying at your house, my tips for food entertaining and wine pairings are universal.

Arrival Night
Weary travelers need to be greeted with something simple to shake off the stress of planes, trains and automobiles. The Gazela Vihno Verde from Portugal is a light, spritzy wine with refreshing citrus notes that’s a wonderful accompaniment to a rich Triple Crème Camembert cheese. Follow this with grilled flat bread pizzas with your guest’s favorite toppings and they’ll know they picked the right host.

Night #2
Time to dine al fresco. Let’s grill some shrimp and slather them with Sauce Goddess Big and Tangy sauce. Match that with my favorite white wine this summer, the Aragosta Vermentino de Sardegna from Italy. It’s similar to a Pinot Grigio with a touch more body to it and without the heavy oak of the Chardonnay. This is a very easy wine to drink on a hot summer day. The bottle has a picture of a lobster (“aragosta” in Italian) on the label, and thus got the nickname “The Lobster Wine” in our shop.

Night #3
Marinated top sirloin seared rare on cast iron over a wood fire, then diced and served with all the fixings for some incredible tacos. Break out a few of our local craft beers. Fulton’s Sweet Child of Vine pairs well with steak tacos that have a little spice on them. Sweet Child of Vine is an easy-to-drink India Pale Ale that has a balance of sweet malt in harmony with citrus notes that develop from the addition of Simcoe and Glacier hops. This is a favorite from Fulton’s Brewery, located three blocks from Target Field.

Night #4
Grill some salmon on a cedar plank and glaze with Sauce Goddess Sticky Sweet sauce. Don’t forget to soak the plank in water for about an hour! Keep in mind the board should burn a little to give your fish that smokey flavor. I love the Morgan Twelve Clones Pinot Noir from the Santa Lucia Highlands with this salmon. Just south of Monterey Bay, the Santa Lucia Highlands produces some of coastal California’s highest quality and most prestigious Pinot Noirs. This wine is smooth and rich, with flavors of blackberry and cherry – an absolute pleasure to drink.

The Grand Finale
This is the time to go to the cellar and find a rare treasure that will blow the mind of even the most experienced wine lover. One of my favorite wines to cellar is Robert Craig’s Affinity. The bold tannins of this wine make it challenging to drink until it rests for 4-5 years. The reward for your patience is one of Napa Valley’s most incredible Cabernet-based blends. Pair this with grilled ribeye steaks, asparagus and red potatoes and your guests may never leave. You’ll have to decide if that’s a good thing or not.

If you have any questions on what to wines to pair with your meals, visit any of our wines and spirits shops located throughout the Twin Cities.

Tags: summerwine

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