10 American Red Wines for Grilling Season

Where old-school American grilling relied on full-bodied California Cabernet or heavily fruity Syrah to carry the brunt of its flavor, new-school thinking offers a lighter spectrum of support.ing characters that complement, not compete with, grilled dishes.

Experimenting with more unexpected grilling, such as swapping sirloin for salmon or ribs for calamari, has changed the way we associate wine with barbecue. While a fruity, full-bodied red may still be the go-to pairing for grilling, the more nuanced flavor profiles of lighter wines are also a great reason to imbibe.

Is it the light tank emanating from a new signal that keeps us coming back for more? Or maybe it’s the unique smoky caramelization that forms on top of the grill? Maybe it’s the faint scent of roasted cedar chips or glowing charcoal wafting through the air?

Whatever your reason for choosing a pairing, this list of subtly flavored American red wines can hold their own against the toughest grilled meats or the heartiest grilled vegetables.

Wine lover’s score: 93 points

Aromas of fresh raspberry, tarragon, white pepper and mossy earth appear on this bottling from Russell Joyce. There’s quite a bit of body on the palate, where a slightly viscous texture carries flavors of cherry, mint and lemon verbena. Matt Kettman


$25
Wine.com

Wine lover’s score: 90 points

A sappy, tangy and slightly leathery wine, this brings a subtle sophistication to what is often an everyday drinker. Cranberry and pomegranate flavors resonate with a slightly mineral note. Not a great wine, but undeniably greedy, it can be enjoyed at cellar temperature or slightly chilled. Paul Gregutt


$33
Wine.com

Wine lover’s score: 87 points

This light and juicy red offers savory flavors of crushed strawberries and cranberries accented by delicate peppery spices. Crisp acidity propels it all along, with delicate tannins providing a smooth structure.Alexandre Poirier


$22
drizzle

Wine lover’s score: 93 points

This excellent, well-balanced zin packs plenty of fresh raspberry and blackberry flavors, accenting them with hints of clove and wild sage for a complex expression that just gets better in the glass. Light tannins and full body frame the fruit and spice beautifully. editors Choice —Jim Gordon


$18
Wine.com

Wine lover’s score: 90 points

Aromas of dried herbs and minerals lead to concentrated, tangy red and black cherry flavors and savory, spicy accents. This full-bodied blend, made from 65% Zinfandel plus Cinsault, Alicante Bouschet and several other varietals, is moderately tannic and well-balanced. —JG


$58
vivino

Wine lover’s score: 89 points

This sweet but tangy wine combines extra-ripe red and black cherry flavors with mouth-watering acidity for a very targeted effect. The soft tannins let the fresh fruit shine through. —JG


$22
Wine.com

Wine lover’s score: 93 points

Fresh and lively aromas of red currant, strawberry, rose petal, sumac and tea leaves appear on the nose of this bottling. The palate balances the dark red with lighter red fruit flavors, while elements of fennel pollen and sage add depth. —MK


$40
wine researcher

Wine lover’s score: 91 points

Savory dark plum, dark cherry and spiced fruit flavors give this medium to full-bodied wine pure fruit concentration. With very light tannins and little obvious oak influence, it’s a pleasure to sip. It comes from some of the oldest Cinsault vines in the world. —JJ


$30
wine researcher

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Posted on August 31, 2022

Shirley M. Pinder