• Under-$20 Wines for Summer Grilling

    by  • July 12, 2012 • All Posts, Bargain Wines, Pairings • 3 Comments

    This time of year, weekends seem to mean firing up the grill for just about anything. No matter what I’m in the mood to eat — even a sandwich — any cooking involved is going to happen outside rather than heating up the inside kitchen. And lately, I find myself just clearing out the fridge of the various vegetable odds and ends, giving it all a quick marinade and grill. Then piling it all into grilled, crusty rolls slathered with fresh goat cheese and a generous drizzling of basil oil. (Leftover grilled veggies can be the basis of a tasty salad the next day.)

    Here’s what went into my latest sammich creation, but substitute freely with what you happen to have on hand! It looks a bit of a mess, I suppose, but trust me — it was delicious. (A grill basket makes this whole thing much easier, by the way.)

    Recipe: Grilled Vegetable Sandwich

    1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing onto the rolls
    1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
    1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1 eggplant, peel on, cut into 1/4-inch slices
    1 zucchini, cut in half crosswise, then into 1/2-inch lengthwise slices
    1 red bell pepper, cored, seeds removed, and cut into fourths
    1/2 red onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices
    2 large crusty rolls, like ciabatta rolls, split lengthwise
    local, fresh goat cheese
    basil-infused olive oil for drizzling (just add a sprinkling of sliced fresh basil to good olive oil and let stand while preparing the sandwich)
    Lettuce and tomatoes, if desired

    While the grill is heating, combine the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Toss in vegetable slices and toss to coat. Grill the vegetables, turning, until done to your liking. Brush the rolls with olive oil and grill until lightly toasted.

    Spread one side of each roll with goat cheese, top with layers of grilled veggies, and drizzle with the basil-infused oil. Top with other half of roll. And then I like to give the whole thing a good press to kind of smush things together (is it just me?). Anyway, it helps prevent it from falling apart when you slice it. Makes 2 sandwiches.

    I find that this type of sandwich works with anything from cold, crisp whites and rosés, to juicy, quaffable reds. Here are a few under-$20 wines I’ve enjoyed lately:


    Byron 2010 Pinot Noir Santa Barbara ($18). Great value here, offering bright acidity, juicy red berry notes, floral accents, silky texture and a fresh finish. So easy to enjoy. Ready to drink now and over the next couple of years. Locate this wine online or in your area.

    Parducci 2009 Pinot Noir California Small Lot Blend ($12). A nice price on an everyday, quaffable Pinot Noir. Nothing terribly complex, but appealing for its light but ripe red berry fruit, with savory herbal notes and a touch of toasty oak. Ready to drink now. Locate this wine online or in your area.

    James Oatley 2010 Shiraz Central Ranges Tic Tok ($14). Seriously stop what you’re doing and track down a bottle of this killer value. Concentrated black currant and blackberry aromas and flavors, laced with sweet earth, black pepper and a touch of savory herbal character. With a focused finish. Delish now and should age nicely for another 2-3 years. Locate this wine online or in your area.

    M. Chapoutier 2009 Cotes du Rhone Belleruche ($14). An easy-going, medium-bodied, everyday style of Cotes du Rhone. With smooth red cherry and bright plum, light spice and earthy notes, and a softly dry finish. Ready to drink now. Locate this wine online or in your area. (2012-06-19)

    Alamos 2010 Red Blend Mendoza ($13). Here’s a juicy blend that doesn’t suffer from that cough medicine thing that so many of the rampant Zin blends seem to. (Really, is there a Zin lake in California that they’re trying to drain?) This little number is mostly Malbec (40%), plus Tempranillo, Bonarda, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Syrah, and the result is a medium-bodied, everyday red that is actually pleasant to drink on its own or with food. With plenty of baking spice accents to the deep berry and plummy notes, picking up light earth, black pepper, toast and vanilla through the dry finish. Well done. Ready to drink now. Locate this wine online or in your area.


    Jean-Luc Colombo 2011 Vin de Pays de Mediterranée Rosé Cape Bleue ($12). It’s a long name for a fun little wine that is perfect for hot weather. With delicate red berry and fresh cherry flavors, and light touches of almond and fresh, savory herbs. Ready to drink now. Locate this wine online or in your area. (2012-05-31)


    Alamos 2010 Chardonnay Mendoza ($13). Ripe and rich, like an apple and nectarine cobbler, but with a brightness that saves the day. Light citrus, toast and brown spice notes through the finish. Ready to drink now. Locate this wine online or in your area. Ready to drink now. Locate this wine online or in your area.

    Carmel Road 2010 Chardonnay Monterey Liberated ($16). This no-oak Chardonnay offers a crisp, juicy mouthful of sleek, aromatic citrus — lime, tangerine — and notes of smooth apple and tropical melon. With a clean, bright finish. Nice value, too. Ready to drink now. Locate this wine online or in your area. (2012-06-19)



    3 Responses to Under-$20 Wines for Summer Grilling

    1. Robyn
      July 13, 2012 at 10:30 am

      Hey Elizabeth — I know — I don’t know how I did without a grill basket for so long. Many pieces of onions and asparagus spears sacrificed along the way…

    2. Roy ADAME
      July 12, 2012 at 8:30 pm

      Great grilling ! Oh and wines.

    3. Elizabeth Mason
      July 12, 2012 at 3:05 pm

      Grill baskets are wonderful .. I discovered my first at TJ Maxx for not much money and thought I would give it a whirl .. and it’s fabulous !! and I agree totally that grilled vege sammich is just awesome .. it’s even good without the bread! just grilled and goat cheese!!! but for fun .. I have started sprinkling the veges with premised garlic bread seasoning .. and it’s very good

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