Summer is awash with pretty rosés, but sometimes nothing but a red will do. If you’re grilling a beautiful piece of meat, a red wine is your best bet. Rich, smoky grilled meats can overpower white or rosé wines. The right bottle of red will enhance the flavors of the grill and refresh your palate during dinner. These are the best red wines to pair with meat.
Cabernet Sauvignon is the classic red wine to drink with rich red meats. High-tannin wines like Cabernet Sauvignon create a drying sensation in the mouth. One sip and you can feel the wine gripping the inside of your cheeks. When consumed alongside red meat, like a steak or a burger, this drying sensation will act as a palate cleanser, perfectly balancing out the mouth-coating richness of the meat. These wines will be full of dark fruit flavors like black cherry and currant, often accompanied by a touch of cedar from the barrel-aging process.
Pinot Noir is a truly versatile wine. Bright fruits like cherry and raspberry are backed up with an earthy mushroom quality and hints of baking spice that come from aging in oak. This light wine can be at home beside a roasted chicken, a grilled burger, or a lean preparation of beef. With a little ketchup, Pinot Noir could even do well alongside a grilled hot dog.
Gamay yields a light red wine with tart red fruit and mellow tannins. This thin-skinned grape will bring a little fruity energy to lighter meats like chicken and duck, or a hearty preparation of salmon. Gamay often has a pleasant amount of earthy flavors that can serve as a delicious complement to game meats like rabbit or pheasant.
Taking a sip of Zinfandel feels like eating an everlasting gobstopper. These wines are packed with layers and layers of flavor that will reveal themselves with each sip. Zinfandel can have notes of tart red fruit like a ripe raspberry, ripe dark fruit like a black plum, and even cooked fruit like an apricot jam. All of this is topped off with warm spice and oak aromas like cinnamon, anise, vanilla, and coffee. It’s a lot to fit in one glass! Their intense fruit profile makes Zinfandels an excellent match for sweet, smoky barbecue, or Moroccan dishes that marry fruit and meat.