What to Pour at the Picnic Table

Here’s the ultimate pairing guide for your favorite summertime dishes.

Enough with the boring, broad-brushstroke bottles at your backyard bacchanalia. Instead, dial in on your favorite food when picking the wine. (Yes, it’s O.K. to like the baked beans better than the burger.) Here’s the ultimate pairing guide for your favorite summertime dishes. 






Deviled Eggs

The Wine: Champagne
The decadence of deviled eggs is best matched by Champagne. Choose a mouthwatering blanc de noirs, vintage or nonvintage. 

Potato Salad

The Wine: Pinot Gris
Potato salad comes in an array of styles, but for the traditional mayo-heavy kind, pour a rich, creamy Alsatian Pinot Gris.


The Wine: Torrontés
Some will cry out for cerveza, but guacamole is given new life by Torrontés, its ample lemony girth able to withstand the creaminess and spice.

Grilled Leek

The Wine: Muscadet
Muscadet’s salty green apple goodness and hints of citrus will tackle a grilled leek with aplomb, matching acid to acid.

Grilled Green Beans

The Wine: Sancerre
The Loire Valley’s great Sauvignon Blanc, medium in body and acidity, loves veggies; consider sprinkling the beans with fresh parmesan. 

Cucumber Salad

The Wine: Soave
A vinegar-based cucumber salad—once the gin and tonics run dry—pairs well with a sip of flowery Soave, Classico preferred.

Grilled Eggplant

The Wine: Aglianico
Eggplant’s bitterness is rendered tame by grilling; the tannins of a full-bodied Italian Aglianico will further mute the intensity, too.

Grilled Asparagus

The Wine: Chablis
Overcome asparagus anxiety by drinking Chablis. Its steely crispness adds dimensions to, rather than subtracts from, the veggie’s potent flavors.  

Watermelon Slice

The Wine: Champagne/Sparkling Wine
A brut rosé, whether from California or France, is as much a taste of summer as that first watermelon slice.


The Wine: Banyuls
This Roussillon red, teasingly sweet, is like dipping your strawberries in mild chocolate so what better to pair with the quintessential berries of summer? 

Grilled Tomatoes

The Wine: Chianti
Your Nonna would agree: whether adorning pizza, pasta or a juicy steak, tomatoes off the grill go best with Chianti, straw basket optional.

Cole Slaw

The Wine: Beaujolais/Riesling  
A Beaujolais Villages can coax coleslaw into tasty submission, while a lemony slaw calls for Riesling, dry or just off-dry.

Grilled Corn

The Wine: Chardonnay
An oaky, buttery Napa Valley Chardonnay is exquisitely compatible with a grilled ear or two of corn slathered in butter. 

Grilled Pineapple

The Wine: Viognier
If dark rum isn’t on hand, pair grilled pineapple with New World Viognier, aromatic and acidic, with a tropical touch of its own.

Lamb Kebob

The Wine: Dry Rosé
A kebob’s exotic Mediterranean flavors call for a sun-drenche Provençal rosé, preferably from Grenache grapes—refreshing, with the body of its red forbear. 


The Wine: Albariño
The voluptuous body of a fresh Spanish Albariño is seductive with shrimp, especially grilled with a dusting of spice.

Pork Chops

The Wine: Pinot Noir
A Burgundian-style Pinot Noir, light and earthy with a whisper of pine forest notes won’t overshadow your pork, cooked low and slow.


The Wine: Côtes du Rhône
The meaty tannins of a red Rhône will play nicely with your burger’s char notes, and will accent the adornment of the bacon and cheese.


The Wine: Pinot Noir
Bacon has a way with Russian River Valley Pinot, teasing out its silky finesse and tangy burst of berries, a master class in minerality over fat.  

Barbecued Chicken

The Wine: Zinfandel
A fruity, fresh-flavored Dry Creek Valley Zin is best for barbecued meats of many kinds, but especially chicken, covered in sauce.  


Rib Eye

The Wine: Cabernet Sauvignon
There’s a reason steak and Napa Cab are a cliché pairing—together they’re the Jay-Z and Beyoncé of food and wine: bold, sleek, powerful. 


The Wine: Gewürztraminer
The symphony of briny frankfurter and savory mustard is built for a slightly sweet and crisp Gewürztraminer.

Dry-Rub Ribs

The Wine: Barbera d’Alba
Barbera’s fruity, juicy spiciness will carry a rack of ribs to delicious places, its tingling acidity readying you for another bite.

Baked Beans

The Wine: Shiraz
The best drinking buddy for goopy, sweet baked beans is an Australian Shiraz, fruity and unfussy. 

Published on May 30, 2013