Grilling Guide: Veggies

Wines that are perfect with your favorite grilled vegetables


One of the greatest things about summer is the copious amount of fresh fruit and veggies that grace our tables. This is the time for tomatoes, squash blossoms, green beans, corn and eggplant, all lovingly grown by local farmers and delivered to sometimes over-priced farmers' markets.

Here, the price can be the rub. It's cheaper to buy the absolutely gorgeous yet often tasteless produce available at national supermarket chains, but then we've lost sight about why we buy this stuff in the first place.

It's not just to fill our bellies but rather to fill our bellies well and healthily and to continue to support local farmers, heirloom produce and a culture that appreciates quality over availability. A bit preachy perhaps, but if we don't support the system of small farms, we will be left with no choice but the sometimes scary produce pawned off on an unsuspecting consumer base. Too expensive? Drop the steak or chicken once a week and you'll barely notice, though your body might thank you.

This could seem to be some sort of quasi-political screed, and while I would be happy to entertain that discussion some day, my motivation here is actually selfish and hedonistic. I love fresh fruit and veggies and there are none better than those that you grow yourself. I just don't have the time for that, so I rely on the small, artisanal farmer to give me my fix.

The whole point of this article is to highlight delicious fresh vegetable preparations and to pair them with some groovy summer wines, so get out there, plan a veggie meal, pop a cork, kick back and enjoy what makes summer special!

Photo courtesy of shutterstock images

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Caps

There is nothing inherently summery about mushrooms, they are available year round, but grilling them is a summer treat and an easy way to add something meaty to a vegetarian meal.

I love to brush my mushroom caps with olive oil infused with garlic and rosemary and then add fresh cracked pepper and sea salt to the caps as they are grilling. The lightly charred edges and nicely dehydrated character of a grilled mushroom cap is very meaty and a great addition to tacos, pasta, or any other dish looking for a summertime make over.

Pair grilled Portobellos with the wines you would pair with grilled beef, just look for a lighter version.

Two to try:

Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé - Earthy, meaty Mourvedre in a full-bodied rosé style.

Fairview Wines Shiraz - South Africa is slowly making a name for its Shiraz and Fairview gives a clear reason why. Fresh, spicy and perfect for summer grilling.

Photo courtesy of shutterstock images

Fried Squash Blossoms

Simplicity at its best. Tempura-style squash blossoms are crisp, subtle and super seasonal. You can add some intriguing spices to the batter or add a simple dip with something else from the garden, like one based on roasted peppers.

A bowl of squash blossoms makes for a lovely starter to a summer meal so think of aperitif wine here, one that is subtle and well suited for pairing with lightly fried food.

Something with juicy acidity is in order, but this isn't a heavy fried dish so don't overdo it. Stick with subtle flavors or you'll lose the nuance of the squash blossoms.

Two to try:

Domaine Ostertag Sylvaner - Sylvaner is perfect for this dish. A little smoky with subtle citrus and mineral flavors that are ideally suited for the subtlety of fried squash blossoms!

Megapanos Winery Savatiano - How about something totally off-beat, a Greek wine made with Savatiano. Lovely, light and lithe with a spritz of citrus and lovely floral notes to marry with the squash blossom! Go for it!

Photo courtesy of shutterstock images

Grilled Eggplant

Dip a thick, meaty slice of eggplant in olive oil then dredge it with a Middle Eastern-inspired spice like Ras el Hanout, toss it on the grill and if you're careful, you'll create an addictive, spicy and creamy dish. This is the dish that allowed me to break free of a skeptical relationship I used to have with eggplant. Now I love it when it's properly prepared, and nothing can beat this preparation!

You're going to need something intense to stand up to the Ras el Hanout, but you don't want anything to simply blow away the eggplant flavor. There is a fine line here. Look for funky wines with assertively savory flavor.

Two to try:

Vina San Esteban In Situ Winemaker's Selection Carmenere - Carmenere is a great wine with beef, but its medium body, light herbal element and fresh berry fruit makes it work superbly here.

Clos Roche Blanche Pineau d’Aunis Rosé - A bit of an odd wine but one that marries fruit and peppery spice so wonderfully that I couldn't think of a better wine to try to pair with the eggplant. Maybe just tone down the spice a rub a bit, but this sounds smashing!

Photo courtesy of shutterstock images


Green Bean Salad

Tender, sweet green beans, fresh picked, are one of my all time favorite veggies. I love them tossed simply with sherry vinegar, olive oil, boiled potatoes and olives, but the additions and variations to this green bean salad theme are almost endless. Add in some duck skin cracklins, a few strips of roasted bell peppers and some toasted almond slivers and you've got the fix for a great, light summer supper!

Sweet, sour, salty; a salad like this has a lot going on and finding the right wine to work with all the elements can be frustrating to say the least. Try to find a wine that works with the acidity here and is simple enough to add a complementary note to most of the ingredients.

Two to try:  

Gini Soave Classico - Nice Soave Classico is a great choice here. Bright, fresh and slightly plump, it's a wine made to complement food, not compete with it.

Vina Godeval Godello - Godello is not the best known of Spain's grapes, but the combination of apple, floral and citrus flavors in a nice, plump style makes it one of the most versatile.

Photo courtesy of shutterstock images

Grilled Corn

Nothing says summer like fresh, sweet corn on the cob. I tend to gorge myself early in the season on simple steamed corn, but as the summer progresses, I become more adventuresome with my maize. Lime and chile grilled corn is addictive and fast becoming a late summer staple for me.

This is a Sauvignon Blanc friendly dish so don't fight it! Zesty and lightly herbal, it's a super complement for the best of the variety. New Zealand is of course a convenient fall back for this dish, but don't overlook Chilean Sauvignon Blanc!

Two to try:

Matetic Eq Sauvignon Blanc - Chilean Sauvignon seems to tend toward a bit of a leaner style than many others with bright, transparent fruit.

Te Mata Estate Woodthorpe Sauvignon Blanc - Go full blast with this tropical-fruited example of Sauvignon Blanc that manages to remain crisp and refreshing.

Photo courtesy of shutterstock images

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  • Snooth User: Calamus
    1121277 305

    Grilled Eggplant Variation
    It is delicious dusted lightly with cinnamon, olive oil, sea salt once on each side during the grilling process. Yummmm!

    Jul 27, 2012 at 11:38 AM

  • Snooth User: Julia91
    1010391 119

    As a vegetarian, I've been waiting for this article since I found this site! I'll definitely be trying some of these pairings, especially the ones for portobello caps, which I absolutely love.

    Jul 27, 2012 at 7:40 PM

  • Snooth User: Isaac42
    98135 33

    Sylvaner and Savatiano? How about something that's available in our local markets? Preferably something made in our local wineries? I'm in Oregon, so I'm thinking Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, or Chardonnay. Maybe Pinot Noir rose.

    Jul 29, 2012 at 12:06 AM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,748

    OK, I'll follow up on this theme with a couple more articles, perhaps something based around vegetarian autumn dishes and one paring vegetarian dishes with wines you can find locally!

    Jul 31, 2012 at 8:31 PM

  • that's really nice

    Aug 31, 2013 at 4:52 AM

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