This article is sponsored by Washington State Wine. It does not reflect the work or opinions of NBC San Diego’s editorial staff. To learn more about Washington State Wine, visit WAwineSD.com.
With spring here and summer just around the corner, it’s time to fire up the backyard grill and invite friends and family over for dinner.
Luckily, Southern California is blessed with a bounty of local food — from grass-fed beef to organically grown fruits and vegetables — meaning selecting what to serve is never a problem. Finding that perfect bottle of wine to pair with the meal, however, can be a trickier proposition, even for the gourmands among us.
That’s why the experts of Washington State Wine are here to help. Home to over 40 grape varieties, Washington State is a rich and diverse terroir teeming with both vineyards and vintners of distinct character, all of which have helped it become the second-largest premium wine producer in the U.S.
So to make sure we nail our next dinner party (you know, the kind where the wine highlights the subtleties of the food and vice versa while the conversations flow well into the night), we spoke to Washington State’s own Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen, an Advanced Sommelier and winemaker at W.T. Vintners. Drawing on his vast culinary experience working alongside several of the Pacific Northwest’s best chefs, Jeff put together four of his favorite seasonal meals and suggested the best type of wine to serve with each.
Read on and throw your next dinner party with aplomb!
Grilled Bone in Rib Eye Steak with Garlic Roasted Potatoes
Pair with: Cabernet Sauvignon
“Washington produces an array of styles of Cabernet Sauvignon, from the dense, fruit and oak packed flavors of Red Mountain, to the more understated and nuanced style of cooler regions like the Yakima and Walla Walla Valleys. A giant steak seared on the grill has no better match than an equally giant glass of Washington Cabernet. Look to Red Mountain for concentrated fruit, sweet vanilla and toasty oak as the perfect foil to the powerful flavors of grill char and marbled beef.”
Recommended Producers: Cadence, Mark Ryan, Pepper Bridge, Hedges
BBQ’d Herb-Rubbed Beer Can Chicken with Grilled Summer Vegetables
Pair with: Chardonnay
“Washington Chardonnay is made in a myriad of styles and is most often fermented in oak barrels. The contact with wood barrels adds richness and texture which act as a foil to Washington Wines’ naturally heightened acidity. Chicken is nearly a blank canvas taking on the flavors of the seasoning and cooking technique; the barbecue brings a depth of flavor and the herb rub brings out the savory side of fruity Chardonnay.”
Recommended Producers: Sixto, Abeja, Buty, Tranche
Braised Lamb Shank and Collared Greens
Pair with: Syrah
“Cabernet is king and Syrah has gotten a bad rap due to a glut of cheap and innocuous Australian Shiraz (they can be extraordinary, just not for $5-10). In 20 years, Washington Syrah will be the state’s claim to fame in the world of fine wine. More importantly, today Washington Syrah is delicious; rich and full with a core of dark fruit and black pepper, yet a vibrancy and bounce in its step that other new world wines don’t always achieve. Traditional rack of spring lamb calls for Cabernet, but slow cooked shank morphs into a deeply flavored dish that mirrors the intensity of the Syrah, and the wine’s acidity refreshes the palate, preventing flavors from becoming dull.”
Recommended producers: Va Piano, Gramercy Cellars, Kerloo Cellars, Avennia
Pair with: Riesling
“Ceviche is easy to make, fun to share and delicious, and Washington Riesling is its perfect match. Outside of Germany, Washington is the world’s largest producer of Riesling. Ranging the full spectrum from brutally dry to unctuously sweet, finding the Riesling you are looking for can be a bit of a minefield. However, if you are feeling adventurous pick up a bottle or two with a little guidance from your local wine shop and play with the sweetness’ impact on a spice. Before you go nuts with the jalapeños, taste the wine. If the wine is a touch on the sweet side add a touch more chilies. The heat from the peppers will be tempered by the kiss of sugar in your wine, making the wine taste less sweet. If the wine is dry and tart, lay off the heat and let the acidity of the wine act to cleanse the palate while the wine’s limey flavor will play off the citrus in the dish. Washington Riesling has a few hallmark flavors including lime, green apple and apricot with a backbone of tremendous acidity no matter the level of sweetness.”
Recommended producers: Chateau Ste. Michelle, Charles Smith, Long Shadows, Savage Grace
For great deals on Washington State Wine, head to local retailers like Ralph’s, Costco and San Diego Wine Co. And to learn more about America’s most exciting wine region, from recommendations to wine tours to events, visit WAwineSD.com.