By Clint Mitchell, Oryana Wine & Beer Purchaser
As the days grow shorter, and the night a little chillier, it feels like a great time to light the grill (or sit by a fire) and open a bottle of wine. Autumn in Northern Michigan screams red wine; whether it’s Pinot Noir, Cabernet or a blend just depends on what you’re eating.
Local produce remains abundant — corn on the cob, potatoes, tomatoes, etc. Being a meat eater, my go-to grilling generally involves steak, chicken, pork or fresh fish (all local, luckily enough). While I do enjoy some of our local red wines, I generally look to the West Coast for my favorite grill pairings — California Cabs, Oregon Pinots and Washinton’s Syrahs and red blends, especially. But French Bordeauxs and Rhones frequently make their way on the menus as well.
This month, I’ll be featuring some new favorites on our wine end cap, showcasing some excellent medium-to-full-bodied reds that pair best with some of my favorite fall foods. We’re not just talking dinner — think salami, crackers, olives and cheeses, as well — some of which you’ll find on display alongside our wines.
Not every red wine requires meat as a companion, either. Savory vegetables work well too. Grilled mushrooms, zucchini and peppers? Delicious with Pinot Noir, to be sure. But, for me, a grilled ribeye and a bottle of Cab? Now that’s heaven. Here are some of my favorites. I hope you enjoy!
- 2015 Martin Ray Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley, California); $24.99 Straight-ahead Napa Cab. Dark fruit flavors, with some chocolate and toasted oak. Delicious on its own — even better with a steak.
- 2014 Mercer Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Horse Heaven Hills, Washington); $19.99Dark berry flavors and spice, and some dusty tannins on the finish. This one shines. Ideal with grilled beef or hard cheeses.
- 2015 Landmark “Overlook” Pinot Noir (Santa Barbara-Sonoma-Monterey counties, California); $20.99 Bright plum and cherry to start, with some savory spice on the finish. Rich and well-built. Serve with barbecued chicken, salmon or grilled veggies.
- 2016 Dancing Coyote Petite Sirah (Clarksburg, California); $14.99
Big and burly, as a Petite Sirah should be, with smooth, dark fruit flavors and chewy tannins. This one needs to wrap itself around some grilled or smoked meat for full appreciation. Try with pork ribs or beef brisket.