The last of the big grilling holidays, Labor Day, offers an opportunity to prepare for the change in seasons with a range of wines.
I avoid calling Labor Day the end of grilling season because of the people who grill just about year-round.
The best wines to pair with grilled red meat, such as cabernet sauvignon and zinfandel, can clash with high afternoon temperatures. With fall around the corner, though, we can start to enjoy them more.
I try to stick with American wines on Labor Day, content to know that the workers who picked the grapes and pumped the wine also have the day off.
Rosé goes with everything, and with so many made with meat-friendly grapes, they are refreshing and often perfect accompaniments.
Marietta Cellars 2017 OVR Old Vine Rosé California is fruitful up front with bright strawberry, but it hides mid-palate, coming back with a nice acidity. It offers a good enough rosé for the price, but feel free to get your favorite. $11. ★★★
Light reds — such as sangiovese, barbera and pinot noir — would match seamlessly with red meats or grilled chicken. You can forget the adage “white wine with white meat.” It depends on how the meat is prepared and the type of sauce. Lemon-herb chicken may go with a white wine, but a light red goes well with a conventional barbecued bird.
From chicken to hamburger, try La Crema 2017 Pinot Noir Monterey, which shows the cherry pie character common in pinots from these parts, making for a soft, but full-flavored wine with hints of spice and tobacco. $20. ★★★★ 1/2
If you are hanging out with a saucy grillmaster heating up full-flavored specialities, reach for a massive red. Frank Family Vineyards in Napa makes wine with flavors that have an exclamation point.
Those looking for a special wine, perhaps for an intimate gathering, can bring a bottle of Frank Family 2016 Napa Valley Zinfandel to share. This wine shows robust fruit character with dried berry, jam and toasted marshmallow with a clean finish. You can find the 2014 in Pennsylvania. $34. ★★★★ 1/2
GRADE: Exceptional ★★★★★, Above average ★★★★, Good ★★★, Below average ★★, Poor ★.