Grillin’ & Chillin’ with Vino

by Robin Barr Sussman on July 3, 2019 in Food+Drink, Drink,
00 Murphy Goode wine grilling credit B Bronstad e1562070299845

Have the grill of your dreams this summer with these wine pairing tips.

From burgers and steaks to seafood and veggies, we’ve got a quaffable match for smoky, spiced foods kissed from the grill. Don’t sweat the small stuff this July 4th weekend… read on, and try the recipe below, too!


Grilling steaks at the Hess Collection Winery in Napa. Courtesy photo

You know the drill. This quintessential pairing is all about red, red wine. But different cuts of steak marry with various wine styles. Grilling a lean filet mignon? A perfectly chilled, silky pinot noir like trusted La Crema Sonoma Coast ($25) will amaze. Fattier cuts like T-bone and rib-eye play well with bigger reds with higher tannins, so serve an impressive Hess Collection Napa Valley Allomi cabernet sauvignon ($34) or intense Spanish Bodega Numanthia Termes 2016 ($23.99)


Photo courtesy Terrazas de los Andes

For that swanky grilled lobster dinner, uncork a fine Terrazas de los Andes Reserva chardonnay ($20). It’s a bit more exotic than a typical California style, yet an elegant match for buttery lobster. Grilled halibut, shrimp and Gulf snapper get a lift with a complex pinot gris (Panther Creek, Willamette Valley, $20), or organically grown Bonterra viognier ($12)—think citrus blossoms, apricot and a long finish. Marilyn Monroe in a glass.


Try a twist on the traditional burger like this one at BCK Kitchen & Cocktails, Houston, with avocado and sprouts. Courtesy photo

Chilled—we mean on ice—Tintillo Santa Julia Bonarda, Mendoza ($13), is a fruity-herbal malbec that hits the spot on a sweltering day. A jammy zinfandel from Murphy Goode ($21) is also fun for a backyard cookout. If greening-up your burger with fried green tomatoes or salsa verde, a refreshing white works beautifully. Sip Cartograph’s dry, full-bodied Gewurtztraminer ($26) with a touch of spice and everything nice.


Yep, you can grill okra on skewers! It’s a southern staple at Punk’s Southern Food, Houston. Courtesy photo

From grilled eggplant crowned with Parmesan to sweetly charred squash and smoky okra skewers, vegetables love sauvignon blanc. Try racy Cassillero de Diablo Concho y Toro (a personal fave, $12) or Robert Mondavi Fume Blanc–as tangy as it is lovingly affordable ($12). Gosh, how we love screw tops.


Prized for its versatility, grilled chicken is a classic that pairs with chardonnay, most whites and light reds. Get out of your comfort zone and uncork Cartograph’s dry, fragrant riesling ($25) with that chile-lime chicken. Or up your grilling game with Imagery’s silky, citrusy Sonoma Valley chardonnay ($14).

Buy the Wines: Most selections can be purchased at Spec’s, Total Wine & More and Houston Wine Merchants.

The Brilliant Pairing

Grilled Stuffed Snapper with Chenin Blanc

(Yield: 4 servings)

Photo courtesy Brennan’s of Houston/Shannon O’Hara

Go healthy with this all-in-one meal on the grill incorporating fish and veggies inspired by the dish at Brennan’s of Houston. This medium-textured fish anointed with smoky grill flavors likes a round, minerally white like 2018 Aperture Cellars barrel-fermented chenin blanc, California.


1 3-pound whole fresh snapper

salt & cracked black pepper to taste

1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 large lemon, deseeded & thinly sliced

1 red or yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 large homegrown tomato, sliced

½ cup leeks, thinly sliced

½ cup fresh dill, chopped


Have your fishmonger butterfly and debone the snapper. Season the cavity with salt and pepper to taste and drizzle with olive oil. Stuff the cavity with the remainder of ingredients. Tie the fish in two places with kitchen twine to keep it together.

Season the fish with salt and pepper and place in a fish basket. Light a grill and oil the grate. Grill over moderately high heat, turning once, about 15 minutes total. Transfer the fish to a platter to serve.

Cover photo courtesy Murphy Goode winery

Robin Barr Sussman ( is a freelance culinary and travel writer who studied at the Culinary Institute of America Greystone, Calif. As a chef for Sonoma County wineries, her specialty was food and wine pairing. Sussman is a columnist for Houston Modern Luxury Magazine, Prime Living and Houston House & Home. Her work also appears in Texas Monthly, Fodor’s and Private Clubs Magazine.