Easy-Drinking Labor Day Cookout Wines

Labor Day weekend is here! I can hardly believe summer is almost over (I say this every single year), but there is still plenty of cook-out weather left! I’ve got four winning wnes to pair with your Labor Day cookout! They’re all pretty widely available at larger wine stores and supermarkets, and they also share my favorite trait: affordalicious – which is my lingo for delicious wines that aren’t going to bust your budget.

Clean Slate Riesling 2021 ($12) This is a lovely German Riesling from the Mosel River Valley, named for the thin, slate soils where the grapes grow. This type of soil reflects and retains heat in this cool climate, helping the grapes ripen into juicy, delicious berries! This is a slightly sweet Riesling (not sugar bomb by any stretch of the imagination), and you’re gonna get a punch of peach, some zesty lime and subtle minerality. It is perfect with spicy foods – maybe some shrimp skewers brushed with sriracha sauce or spicy Buffalo chicken wings! Bonus: it is relatively low alcohol, at 11% so drink up! (In Chicago, find it at Whole Foods, Mariano’s and Jewel).

Yalumba Y Series Unwooded Chardonnay 2021 ($14) This unoaked Chard from Australia’s most historic family-owned winery in South Australia is a perfect pairing with your favorite potato salad or mustard-marinated grilled chicken. This wine is fermented in all stainless steel, so nothing is hiding behind the fresh tropical fruit notes. The wine did get some malolactic fermentation (where they convert bitter malic acid into far-more-appealing lactic acid) so it’s got a satiny, creamy texture that stands up to the bright grapefruit and lemon notes. It’s a lipsmacker! (Get it in Chicago at Whole Foods.)

Zenato Valpolicella Superiore 2019 ($17) Time to get your sausages on the grill! This red is a perfect, lighter-bodied choice for grilled sausages and turkey burgers. Zenato is a small family-owned winery in northeastern Italy in the Valpolicella region (which translates to “valley of many cellars” – cool, right?). This wine is made from the Corvina grape and you’re going to get a rush of cranberries and dried strawberries gushing from the glass. Pro tip: chill it for maybe 30 minute sin the fridge before drinking. (All reds taste better at about 57-60 degrees.) You can find it in Chicago at Whole Foods and Mariano’s.

Catena Appellation Paraje Altamira Malbec 2019 ($27) Here’s your “splurge wine” and it is so worth it! The Catena winery has a 100-years-plus history, started when Nicola Catena, an Italian immigrant, planted his first vineyard in Mendoza, Argentina in 1902. Today, Laura Catena, part of the 4th generation of the family, is in charge and they are one of the few wineries still under family control in Argentina. You’re going to want to pair this some excellent burgers, or even a chili-cheese dog! And of course: steak. (Find it at Whole Foods in Chicago.)

I shared these pairing on WGN-TV’s Daytime Chicago, too. I love inspiring people to try something new! Enjoy the weekend, and enjoy your wine-filled cook-outs! Cheers!

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