Whenever the sun comes out, we like to throw impromptu cookouts. You know the deal: a few family members, some neighbors, burgers and vino. But given the casual nature of a backyard BBQ, we don’t want to be sipping fancy wines. What we serve has to be delicious, but also inexpensive and approachable. And most importantly, it needs to be at my local grocery store so I can buy a few bottles as I’m picking up burger fixins. Luckily for y’all, to find the best wines for a cookout we recently held an “exploratory tasting” (i.e.; folks came over for burgers and I sprung a blind tasting on them).
Before you go on to the results, make sure you know which tribe matches your preferences. That way, when you see our customized notes and recommendations by tribe, you’ll know which wines are best for your palate.
Here’s what we tried:
· Casal Garcia Vinho Verde (Portugal): $7-10. This widely distributed white wine is a steal for less than $10.
· Kestrel 2015 Viognier (Washington): $15. You can find this white wine retailing anywhere from $11-15 a bottle.
· Hahn 2015 GSM (California): $16. “GSM” stands for Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre—the grapes that make up this red blend.
· Hedges Family CMS 2014 Red (Washington): $12. This blend consists of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.
The Casal Garcia Vinho Verde was a crowd pleaser. This is an easy drinking wine (aka: porch pounder) that smells like orange blossoms and tastes like apricots, green apples and light citrus. It has a few bubbles, so it feels spritzy and refreshing. It is a bit sweet, though. “Reminds me of Sweet Tarts” said one taster. Still, all of the tribes liked it, and it was the favorite of the night for the Accessible and Balanced tribes.
The Kestrel 2015 Viognier, on the other hand, was not a big hit with any of the tribes. I’m a fan of this winery, so I was surprised by this particular wine. Tasters found it to be a no-go on its own, but once we paired it with some food people warmed up to it. Still, one taster said the wine smelled like the classic Jean Nate’ after-bath fragrance your great aunt used on special nights, “light, lemony and floral.” That’s great if you like Jean Nate’, but the lemony fragrance didn’t translate well on the tongue. Our tasters considered it too acidic, like sour green apples, and found the wine weirdly flat. Honestly, save your money and try a different Kestrel wine.
On to the Reds
Y’all might remember that we are big fans of Hahn Pinot Noir. Every time we throw that wine into a blind tasting it performs well. So I was curious about the Hahn GSM blend. Sure enough, it was a hit with my people, the Developed Tribe. We liked the smells of black plums, raspberries and “a little bit of campfire.” The wine tasted a bit like dark chocolate and plums with a finish of bacon. Sounds good, right? It was a little overpowering when paired with salads, but as soon as we started eating burgers this wine rocked.
And finally, the Hedges Family CMS Red was the hands-down favorite of the Complex Tribe. Scents of dark berries, leather, rocks and burnt brown sugar made this wine distinct. For some tasters, the wine was a bit too tannic, but for the Complex Tribe it was just right. It had big cherry tastes, some oak and a hint of dark cocoa powder and was really nice when paired with the burgers.
So the next time you’re running to the store to prep for your spur of the moment cookout, consider the Casal Garcia Vinho Verde for the white wine drinkers and either the Hahn GSM or the Hedges Family CMS for the red wine lovers. You really can’t go wrong with either of these reds in one hand and a juicy burger in the other. Cheers!