Fort Mill Times

Cook up the unexpected outdoors

With the warmer weather, many meals are being prepared outside. The weather itself brings additional components to meals and dishes prepared on the grill or barbecue have rich flavors that are unique. Wine has its proper place outdoors, as well. It can be a thirst quencher and enhance a meal with its own flavors and nuances. Pairing wine with meals from the grill is easy, especially if you take a few things into consideration.

Thirst quenching wines can fill the bill when outdoors. Dry and semi-dry white and blush wines that can be chilled, fall into this category. They can be very refreshing and help keep you properly hydrated on a warm or hot day. You can find blush wines made from a variety of red grapes and many will have more full-bodied flavors than you might expect.

Many dishes prepared outdoors have strong flavors. Hot and tangy sauces adorn a wide variety of meats and grilled foods. Dry white wines that haven't been aged in wood will display a high acidity and crispness. These wines pair well with spicy foods as the acidity cuts through and tames the heat. Many Sauvignon Blancs, particularity those from New Zealand, will exhibit very good crispness. Another white wine that we enjoy with spicy foods is Vinho Verde. This is a Portuguese wine and slightly effervescent.

The name roughly translates as "green wine." It actually is a light straw color. The name refers to the fact that it's made to be drunk while young. It's light in body, crisp, and low in alcohol, usually 8-10 percent. It's inexpensive, normally under $10, made from a variety of local Portuguese grape types, and produced by a number of wineries. It can be served chilled and its low alcohol makes it an excellent choice in warm weather.

Other wines that go well with grilled foods are full bodied reds such as Zinfandel, Syrah, and Petite Syrah. These wines usually exhibit pronounced, bold flavors of fruit and spices.

The robust flavors in these wines will compliment those found in most meat dishes and rich sauces. You do want to exercise caution with these big reds as they sometimes can be a bit on the high side with their alcohol content. If you use wood or charcoal to cook outdoors red wines are definitely the way to go. Theses big red wines have the body and structure to compliment the smoky complex flavors food gets from these cooking methods.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of outdoor dining can be the preparation. If you use paper plates there's very little to clean up. That alone is a good enough reason to dine outside. Bon Appetite!

Jim and Marie Oskins are Fort Mill residents living on Lake Wylie. They can be e-mailed at winetime@com.

Wine tasting event in Rock Hill The Culture & Heritage Museums'15th anniversary wine tasting will be held Aug. 23 at the Museum of York County, 621 Mount Gallant Road, Rock Hill. Celebrity guest hosts Stuart Roy, director of Wine & Spirits at Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas, and Catherine Rabb of Johnson and Wales will be on hand to highlight the event.

Participants can sample fine wines at tasting stations located throughout the museum. Wine experts from the featured wineries as well as from local distributors will be on hand pouring wine and answering questions. There will be live and silent auctions as well as a "wine pull" where every participant is a winner.

Admission prices start at $60 for non-members. For information, call (803) 329-2121 or visit