Wines For Summer Grilling

We invited Sarah O'Kelley, Wine Director for Edmund's Oast restaurant in Charleston, SC to share some favorite chillable summertime wines that pair well with the grill. Take it away Sarah...

Wines for Summer Grilling

For many, the image of a grill immediately conjures up images of warm days and cold beers but what about WINE and the grill? The sheer variety of wine styles opens up a myriad of pairing possibilities. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Bubbles go with everything! There’s a reason that a frosty beer sounds appealing with grilled foods, and sparkling wine is no different. Bubbles cut through richness and also scrub your palate clean between each bite. And these days there are so many sparkling wines to choose from – fancy pants Champagne to funky Pet Nats (aka petillant naturel). Top pick: a sparkling Chenin Blanc paired with everyone's favorite Mexican Street Corn (aka Elotes). 

Some of my favorite sparkling Chenins: 

Champalou Vouvray Brut SRP (suggested retail price) $33

Les Athletes du Vin Chenin Blanc SRP $22

(both from Loire Valley, France)


Orange (it’s not a fruit)! If you have not experienced a skin contact white (aka orange wine) then prepare to have your grilling mind blown. When you ferment white grapes on their skins, you get color and tannin (aka structure) that works well with so much – even tomatoes, which can be a difficult pairing partner! Top pick: Orange & the ubiquitous barbecue chicken (with that classic tomato-based barbecue sauce)!

Some of my favorite orange wines:

Anne Pichon, Southern Rhone, France SRP $29

Division L’Orange, Oregon SRP $28

Chillable reds for warm days! Lighter reds that work well with a chill have been having a moment. No wonder, as they are perfect when mother nature turns up the heat but you are still craving a red to go with your grilled meats. Look for Pinot Noir, Gamay, or Pais (my new fave from Chile) and throw them in the fridge or the cooler for about 20 minutes. Top pick: any of these varieties paired with burgers or smoked pork butt. 

Some of my favorite chillable reds:

Vin de Days Pinot Blend, Oregon SRP $30

Jean Foillard Beaujolais Villages, France SRP $29

Gonzales Bastias Pais, Chile SRP $24

Big reds always have a place! There’s definitely still room for “big” reds in the depths of summer as fattier meats (like rib-eyes or brisket) call for a wine with a bit more body. (The one cautionary note is to avoid reds that are higher in alcohol if you are using any sort of spicy rub. Alcohol elevates spice levels, and those spice levels also obliterate any nuances in your wine.) Top pick: Nebbiolo from the Piedmont region of Italy paired with a rib-eye! 

Some of my favorite big reds:

Railsback Freres Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Barbara, Cali SRP $30

G.D. Vajra Barolo, Piedmont, Italy SRP $40

Sarah O'Kelley talks wine by the grill

photo by Leigh Ann Beverly

Sarah O'Kelley is a certified sommelier and Wine Director for Edmund's Oast. Read more on her blog, Grape to Table.


Chef Bob Cook at Edmund's Oast has been a longtime friend of the Forge. If you are in Charleston and looking for some world class beers, be sure to check them out and tell them we sent you!

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