Play Sommelier With Summer Barbecue Wines Under $20

The words barbecue and beer seem permanently wedded; a hot day is well matched with a cold one, and it's easy to pair with burgers, ribs, and grilled what-have-you. However, with back-yard fiestas growing ever more gourmet, we champion summer-appropriate wines that enhance the overall experience of eating smoky, juicy barbecue.

Award-winning sommelier Allegra Angelo spent years curating the lists at Michy's and Sra. Martinez. She now spends her days building wine programs for restaurants such as Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, which will be the new home of chef Jeff McInnis.

Wines can work very well when paired with barbecue, although Angelo admits, "We rarely think of having wine with a footlong Jersey hot dog, black-and-blue hamburgers, tangy pork ribs, or creamy coleslaw." She insists wine can be enjoyed without the fancy decanter and crystal stemware. "Why can't you have a sip of Italian Barbera out of a red plastic cup while passing mustard across a picnic table?"

Agreed. Here are her picks for a few 'cue-friendly wines. Look for the labels at Sunset Corners, Total Wine, Wolfe's Wine Shoppe, Wine Watch, or W Wine Boutique.

Sparkling Rosé

Producer: Fantinel

Market price: under $15

Grapes: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay
From: Fruili, Italy

Year: Non-Vintage

Drink with: tomato salads, vinegar-based coleslaws, or grilled snapper.
Angelo's Note: "This is wine is dry."

Fritz's Riesling

Producer: Gunderloch

Market price: under $10
Grapes: Riesling

From: Rheinhessen, Germany

Year: 2009 

Drink with: grilled zucchini and eggplant, bbq chicken, hotdogs, saucy pork or beef ribs, corn on the cob, or potato salad (vinegar or mayonnaise based).
Angelo's Note: "This wine has a touch of sweet!"

Velvet Devil Merlot

Producer: Charles Smith Wines
Market price: under $15

Grapes: Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon
From: Yakima & Wahluke Valleys, Washington State

Year: 2009

Drink with: grilled mushrooms and eggplant, hamburgers, bbq beef or pork ribs, and any kind of sausages.
Angelo's Note: "Supple and juicy, big fruit for a Merlot."

Tre Vigne, Barbera d'Asti

Producer: Vietti
Market price: under $20

Grapes: Barbera

From: Piedmont, Italy

Year: 2009

Drink with: grilled salmon, hot dogs, or tomato salads.
Angelo's Note: "This has unusual richness and texture for a Barbera!"

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