The Secret to Successful Grilling

What to pair with your favorite grilled dishes


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Grilling fish is a summertime ritual, though grilling fish successfully is more like a summer solstice: Yes it happens, but rarely. Preparation is everything, they say. If you’re gonna paint something you spend three times as much time prepping as you do painting, why would you not scrub your grill spotlessly clean after each use?

The secret to grilling fish is a clean, freshly oiled grill. When everything comes together, there’s no better way to prepare tuna, salmon or trout.

Tuna is almost steak but not quite, though it is a fish that can stand a light to medium-bodied red wine. Having said that, I still prefer a white wine with my tuna. I’ve found white Rioja Reserva to be the killer pairing here.

Salmon, on the other hand, isn’t as steak-like but it is fattier than tuna. That fat allows salmon to pair well with light red wines; the fat buffers the tannin and Pinot Noir is a natural match. Turn to Oregon or New Zealand for perfectly proportioned examples.

Trout takes us back to white wines. There is some fat under the skin of your trout, but the meat is fairly delicate so standing up to a red is tough. Try a nice white Bordeaux here. A touch of oak can work well with the grilled flavors and the blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon seems to mirror the qualities of the fish.

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  • Snooth User: Mark Angelillo
    Founding Member Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    2 5,354

    Damn GDP - why must you mock me and my lack of grill? This makes me want to spend a weekend in the country.

    Jul 27, 2011 at 11:56 AM

  • Snooth User: TomG
    40947 44

    Hi Greg - a question and a suggestion:
    - question: I usually grill a mix of vegetables of all three types (tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, eggplant, peppers, squash, etc.) What would you suggest for a wine to work with the lot?
    - suggestion for grilling fish: I've never been able to get my grill clean enough or well-oiled enough to keep fish from sticking. Two things have helped. One is to put a piece of heavy-duty foil, just big enough to hold the fish, on the grill before I start it, then slice the foil between the grill rods so that each is covered by a strip; then pinch the strips around the rods so that they're loosely wrapped. The other thing is to let the grill heat up completely before putting the fish on. As the metal rods heat up, they expand and if the fish is on while this is happening, the skin bonds to the metal. I usually get the grill hotter than I want, then put the fish down to get nice grill marks, then immediately reduce the heat to cooking temperature. Hope this helps!

    Jul 27, 2011 at 3:23 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 237,107

    For grilled vegetables, especially if some good olive oil is involved, I've never found a better wine than Barbera. Even a Barbera with some age works well here. You've got all that succulent acidity and the oak in the wine can be matched by all the smoke and char created by grilling your veggies.

    Nice tips for grilling fish, both very effective. Thanks for contributing!

    Jul 27, 2011 at 5:09 PM

  • We love grilling at our house but I don't know where you come up with the idea that there are no dishes to do. If you are entertaining with wine and great grilled food then you need beautiful dishes to serve it in. Just saying.....

    Aug 04, 2011 at 10:20 AM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 237,107

    I manage to get through with few to none, though admittedly while not entertaining. One trick I've developed for some of my meals is to use flour tortillas over a plate, you then get to eat up the mess!

    Aug 04, 2011 at 10:32 AM

  • Snooth User: Richard Foxall
    Hand of Snooth
    262583 4,003

    Sure, you eat on dishes, but pots and pans are reduced. Major advantage to the grill.

    Aug 10, 2012 at 7:41 PM

  • wine for spare ribs and brots

    Aug 31, 2012 at 11:24 PM

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