Summer officially arrives next week and if you still haven't fired up your outdoor barbecue, you're probably among the minority of Bellinghamsters.
If you're barbecuing grilled meats, especially anything beef, and you'd like to consider a wine pairing, look no further than a Washington cabernet sauvignon. Cabernet makes a great barbecue wine because it's full-bodied with sturdy tannins that stand up to sauces and that wonderful charbroiled flavor that comes from the outdoor grill.
So, can you pair cabernet with chicken and a splash of barbecue sauce? Absolutely. Brats and grilled sausages? No problem! Beef, lamb or bison burgers? Of course! A big, juicy steak? Puh-lease!
Cabernet has got you covered on these and many other meats you might consider for your barbecue. And remember that when cabernet is blended with other red varietals, it becomes even more functional by picking up additional flavor components, such as fruit and spice, that add to its character and versatility.
Here is a cabernet and three cabernet-based blends from Washington that can be served at your next summer barbecue, or any other time your food calls for a full-bodied red wine:
Two Mountain Winery Non-Vintage Red Blend No. 9 (about $15) - This combination of cabernet, merlot and cabernet franc displays more savory characteristics of cherry tomato without the acidity and hints of dried herb. The finish has a trace of minerality and dusty strawberry that seems to showcase the terroir from its Yakima Valley vineyard.
J. Bookwalter Winery 2010 Subplot No. 26 (about $20) - In a word: yummy. You'll experience a mouthful of juicy red fruits with this blend of 54 percent cabernet plus six other red varietals from Richland. Berries, cherries and currants lead off, with a soft, round finish capped with touches of vanilla, cedar and brown sugar.
Seven Hills Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley (about $45) - This super dark, 100 percent cabernet has gorgeous aromatics of violets and red raspberry, with generous flavors of plum, black cherry and fig. Supple tannins lie in the background, along with a sprinkling of white pepper on the finish.
Tamarack Cellars 2008 DuBrul Vineyard Reserve (about $50) - Sourced from the Rattlesnake Hills Appellation, this cab-based blend from the Walla Walla winery displays considerable depth and character. There's a splash of lean red currant to start, followed by a melt-in-your-mouth layer of chocolate-covered cherry and black plum. Slightly chewy tannins dissipate with ample aeration and also suggest additional cellaring time for a future barbecue.
Dan Radil is a wine enthusiast who lives in Bellingham. Reach him at danthewineguy.com.