Could Barbera be at all-american wine?
Americans love summer. And Americans love grilling.
And there’s no date more important in the summer -and grill- lovers calendar than Memorial Day, the last Monday in May: A much anticipated long weekend, a national and federal holiday, and (most importantly) commemoration for those who have given their lives for our country (hence the name “memorial”).
Memorial Day is also the unofficial start of summer. The official start of summer this year is June 21. But in America, Memorial Day marks the end of the school year, the beginning of summer hours for New Yorkers, and the first weekend when families across the United States will dust off their grills and start grilling in the backyard and by the pool.
And when it comes to what Americans love to grill, the sky is the limit!
A quick Google search for “best Memorial Day recipes” delivered this wonderful list of 36 recipes compiled by the good folks at Country Living. They lean to the traditional side of the spectrum. One of the more daring recipes (and my personal favorite) was this riff on the all-American classic, “Coffee-Rubbed Burger with Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce.” Ha!
Another highlight from my search was this superb list of “60 Simple Memorial Day Weekend Grilling Recipes” from the editors at Bon appétit. “Soy-Basted Chicken Kebabs with Sesame-Citrus Sprinkle,” “Cumin-Chile Lamb Kebabs with Garlic Yogurt,” and “Grilled Halloumi with Watermelon and Basil-Mint Oil” were just a few of the more intriguing entries. But it was “The BA Burger Deluxe,” with its promise of deliverance to “burger heaven,” that really got me (see this photo and weep!).
Whether you’re simply grilling Hebrew Nationals and Costco burgers or your attempting something a bit more exotic like “Gochujang Pork Shoulder Steaks,” you’re going to need wine for you and your guests. And not just any wine.
Even the most simple of summer grills in America brings together a wide and disparate range of flavors: From the heat of mustard and hot sauce to the tang of bbq sauce and Asian accents; from the sweet flavors of hot dog buns and summer corn and squash to the mouth-watering fatty flavors of seared ground beef and smoked brisket…
The bottomline is that you need a wine with extreme versatility, a wine that can stand up to heat and acidity and a wine that simultaneously can complement the umami flavors of grilled meats. White wine works up to a certain extent. But when it comes to the fattier meats (not to mention sausage), you really need a red wine. And ideally, you need a red wine that you can chill. It is summertime, after all!
And that’s where Barbera comes in, especially the fresh and clean style of stainless-steel aged Barbera, where you also have a convergence of affordability, approachability (key for a crowd that includes wine lovers and wine-curious folks), and juicy red fruit flavors.
Scrolling back through all the recipes listed above, there’s not one that wouldn’t benefit from a pairing with a Barbera. And from the French’s Mustard that I will slather on my Hebrew National this weekend to Dr. Pepper glaze that I’ll use to baste my slow-fried baby back ribs, a glass of slightly chilled Barbera will hit the spot with flying colors.
I can’t think of a better, more versatile, or satisfying wine to open for our family’s Memorial Day party this weekend. And it won’t even break the bank (a good thing, since we are expecting a lot of people this weekend!).
Happy Memorial Day, everyone! Happy grilling!