Sunday, July 08, 2007

A Season Made For Malbec

Finding a good wine to go with the grilled foods of summer is not rocket science, though some people seem to think so. All that's required is that you find something to complement the extra smoky complexity that foods acquire while broiling on the grill.

Did I say "required?" That's to appease the purists. All you really have to do is find something you like. When it comes to matching a wine with grilled meats, I like the smoky flavors of Rhone wines. You don't have to get expensive either -- many inexpensive Cotes du Rhones work quite nicely. Some of the more complex California zinfandels do as well.

Adding a barbecue sauce to your meat? I might then switch to an Australian shiraz because most will work well with the sugar in the typical barbecue sauce. Trying some lighter things on the grill like chicken or fish? Then it's hard to go wrong with a dry rose from France or Spain. Or, how about a sparkling rose? That's a wine, if ever there was one, that adds a refreshing note to dinner on a hot summer day.

But recently I tried a different wine with grilled foods that had my palate dancing a jig. It's a 2005 Viu Manent Reserve Malbec. I've had this wine once or twice before, but when I paired it recently with both grilled beef and chicken I was doubly impressed.

The Viu Manent first offers a wonderful nose of blackberries and plums with just a hint of earth -- perfect for enjoyment before the main course arrives. But give it 30 or 40 minutes and a leathery, smoky scent emerges that makes it the perfect companion to your grilled meal. It also has a rich, smooth finish that is quite enjoyable -- you won't find yourself wishing you had saved it for a cold winter night.

Best of all -- it sells for about $14 a bottle. Now that's cool.

South America and Argentina in particular seem to be saving malbec from obscurity. One of the five red grapes typically blended into red Bordeaux, malbec adds a rich, dark color and spice to these blends. But it never made its mark as a varietal until the wineries of South America got their hands on it.

The Viu Manent hails from Chile, not Argentina. But I doubt you'll find many malbecs better in this price range. All I know is that I have a new tool to add to my grilling arsenal. Summer never tasted better.


Post a Comment

<< Home