It’s that time of year! Birds are chirping, cherry trees are blossoming, and there’s a wonderful scent in the air...the scent of fired up grills!
Lots of wines go great with grilled food, from light, zippy rosé, to savory Carménère, to smoky Pipeño. All of these are amazing options, but we think if you really want to nail a backyard cookout, you should serve Cabernet Franc. We’ve picked two great grill buddies for you this month!
Cabernet Franc, affectionately known as “Cab Franc,” is actually the father grape of the more famous Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Sauvignon is a cross between Cab Franc and Sauv Blanc. Generally more austere and focused than Cab Sauv, Cab Franc is know for a distinct pepper (the food, not the spice) note, firm and structured tannins, herbal aromas, and tart, red and black fruit tones. Both of the wines are textbook examples of the grape, with their own unique qualities that make them special.
Other classic expressions of Cab Franc can be found in the Loire Valley in France within the appellations of Chinon and Bourgueil, and classic blending grape in Bordeaux and in the new world regions such cold climate Leyda and Casablanca valleys, in coastal Uruguay as well and of course in high altitude Argentina keeps getting better every vintage!
So why does Cab Franc work so well with grilled foods? For one, it integrates well with the flavors imparted by oak barrels, giving the wine a nice charred flavor that doesn’t overpower the other flavors in the wine. In addition, those structured tannins we mentioned form a foundation for the types of things that love being grilled, like steak, eggplant, and sweet potatoes. These same tannins also play well with slow cooked, smoky barbecue like brisket or pork ribs. The only thing we would caution on here: don’t go too heavy with a sweet barbecue sauce.
We’ll leave you with a few tips when pairing Cab Franc with your next grill session. First, be careful to keep the wine at the right temperature. Don’t be afraid to throw the bottle in the cooler for 5 to 10 minutes if it gets too hot.
Second, Cab Francs will overpower lighter fare, like salmon, grilled corn, and the accompanying salad, so reach for something more mild for those types of dishes.
Finally, don’t forget about the vegetables! It’s easy to only consider the meat when it comes to grilling, yet vegetables like asparagus, carrots, poblano peppers (this one is a must with Cab Franc!) and squash, when tossed with olive oil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and paprika, can often be the stars of a grilled meal. There’s a reason why your gift this month is either rocoto paste or ají amarillo, both ingredients you can slather on any part of your menu who’s flavors pair nicely with the wines.
So fire up that grill and pop open this month’s Wine Club and enjoy Spring! The release party is this Sunday from 1 to 7pm.