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Wine Review: Reds are the standard for grilling season

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There are certain blessings about the warm seasons in southwest Missouri, when the beautiful weather we enjoy in spring, summer and fall permits us to grill food outdoors.

While white wines are smoother, sedate and sippable, reds are the go-to wines where outdoor grilling is involved. There is no way a white wine can well accompany anything off a barbecue grill. All grilled foods are highly flavored and often highly seasoned, which precludes them from being accompanied by a white wine.

The choice of the type of red wine to accompany a barbecued meal is strictly up to the taste preferences of the chef, since any red wine can and will stand up to anything that can be grilled because of the variety’s tannic nature. However, there is a problem. Many of the subtle nuances of flavor and aroma of fine red wines can be lost when up against a mess of barbecued ribs, hamburgers or brats.

There are many red wines that are true to the variety, relatively inexpensive and adequate as an accompaniment to food off the grill. It’s my pleasure to mention some to you that have passed my grilling test.

Cline Family Cellars 2020 Contra Costa County Ancient Vines Zinfandel ($16)
Do geriatric vines make better wine, or at least more interesting wines, than their juvenile compatriots? In the case of zinfandel, they most certainly do. It seems that the grapes from these older vines produce wines that are more intense in flavor and aroma but not intense enough to clash with food. This wine is first in my listing because it is a champion as a grilling partner. Being a true zinfandel, the wine displays the flavors of black and red fruits, some spiciness and chocolate. There also is a hint of the often hard- to- find aroma and flavor of cedar, an incense-like sensation that typically can be found in more expensive wines.

Mill Keeper Multi-Vintage Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($35)
This wine, constructed by blending wines from several different years, was made with grapes picked from vineyards known to grow excellent cabernet sauvignon grapes. To the casual observer, this may seem like the winemaker rounded up some grapes from here, there and anywhere and made wine from them. Nothing could be further from the truth. The wines from each vineyard were fermented separately and then blended by master blenders to produce a wine that not only glorifies cabernet sauvignon but raises it to new heights. This is a big, jammy wine, heavy with the flavors of cassis, blackberries and oak. While very much a California wine, it is reminiscent of the wines of Bordeaux with its accent on the flavors of cassis and oak. No matter when you enjoy this wine, now or in a decade, it will be outstanding.

Le Fat Bastard 2020 Pinot Noir ($16)
In spite of its name, this is an excellent wine. This wine comes from the Mediterranean breeze-cooled vineyards of southeastern France. Although not Burgundian, this wine still carries those magic flavors and aromas that are the hallmarks of all French wines. This is a moderately full-bodied wine that boldly presents the aromas of strawberries, raspberries and the trademark pinot noir aroma of cherries that carry right through to the long finish. It is a known fact that the French take their wines seriously and treat pinot noir with almost religious reverence.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at frojhe1@att.net.

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