Labor Day approaches — the third-biggest grilling day of the year. Seventy percent of us say we will cook outside, behind only birthdays (72 percent) and the Fourth of July (83 percent).
Men will make up three-quarters of the grillers, according to the Weber Grill people. We will stand on the back porch in 90-degree temperatures, wielding the noble spatula like Don Quixote’s lance, willing to march into hell for a heavenly char.
Women are less eager to grill, says barbecue guru and Miami resident Steven Raichlen, because it doesn’t strike them as fun to stand in the smoke over a 1,900-degree flame.
Whatever. Now we need some grilling wines.
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We want crisp, chillable whites and sturdy, bare-fisted reds. Good wines, but nothing super expensive.
We want whites we can plunge into the ice in coolers, even reds that can take 10 minutes in the chill to avoid tasting hot and alcoholic.
For salty snacks, from potato chips to mixed nuts, I like chilled, inexpensive pinot grigio.
For bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers and tabasco-laced chicken wings on the grill, we want wines with a hint of sweetness, like chenin blanc or viognier.
For the all-American cheeseburger, we want a hearty but smooth red blend or malbec.
For ribs slathered in barbecue sauce, a full-bodied, spicy red zinfandel.
For chicken quarters on the grill, a big, opulent, oaky California chardonnay (here we might spend an extra buck or two).
For the mighty steak, only powerful cabernet sauvignon is worthy.
For grilled onions, zucchini, carrots, eggplant and such, with their nicely bitter char cross-hatchings, white sauvignon blanc is nice.
Desserts of grilled fruit — pineapples, peaches, apricots, plums — go nicely with dessert wines, white or red.
Finally, raise a glass of one of the above and give a toast to the end of summer vacations.
▪ 2012 Renwood Zinfandel, Fiddletown, California (94 percent zinfandel, 5 percent syrah, 1 percent petite sirah): rich and hearty, with aromas and flavors of black cherries and caramel, big tannins; $25.
▪ 2013 Stonestreet Estate Chardonnay, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County (100 percent chardonnay): hint of oak, big and bold and lush, with flavors of butter and cream and ripe golden apples; $40.
▪ 2014 Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc/Viognier, Clarksburg/Lodi (80 percent chenin blanc, 20 percent viognier): aromas of lemon blossoms and melon, crisp, slightly off-dry flavors of golden delicious apples and lemons; $12.
▪ 2014 Francis Coppola “Diamond Collection” Pinot Grigio, California (80 percent pinot grigio, 20 percent sauvignon blanc): light and lively, with floral aromas and flavors of lemons and mangos; $16.
▪ 2014 Argento Pinot Grigio, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (100 percent pinot grigio): light and crisp and lean, with aromas and flavors of white peaches and minerals; $14.
▪ 2014 Franciscan Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley: pale hue, crisp and zingy aromas and flavors of white grapefruit, lemons and minerals; $18.
▪ Nonvintage “Centenario” Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro, Amabile DOC: red dessert wine, slightly sweet, lightly sparkling, with aromas and flavors of ripe strawberries; $11.
▪ 2013 Mountain Door Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipu, Mendoza, Argentina (100 percent cabernet sauvignon): aromas and flavors of black plums and espresso, rich, soft tannins; $12.
▪ 2012 Kennedy Shah “La Vie en Rouge,” Columbia Valley, Washington (32 percent merlot, 30 percent cabernet sauvignon, 25 percent cabernet franc, 7 percent petit verdot, 6 percent syrah): big and hearty and soft, with aromas and flavors of black cherries and black coffee, full body, smooth tannins; $14.
▪ 2012 Fortress Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County (82 percent cabernet sauvignon, 7 percent syrah, 3 percent petit verdot, 3 percent malbec, 3 percent cabernet franc, 2 percent misc.): big and rich and smooth, with aromas and flavors of black raspberries and bittersweet chocolate; $25.
▪ 2012 Don Miguel Gascón Reserva Malbec, Mendoza (94 percent malbec, 6 percent petit verdot): aromas and flavors of black raspberries and bittersweet chocolate, big, ripe tannins, full body; $25.