Perfect Pairings for Your Summer Parties and Picnics


To impress guests at summer picnics, barbecues and other parties, take a cue from your favorite fancy restaurant.

Well-matched food and drinks are a hallmark of a premium restaurant meal. Many pairings are relatively easy for consumers to replicate at home, without spending a lot of money. A fast Google search is enough to pull up foodies’ favorite pairings and Frugal Foodie usually turns to her worn-out copy of  “What to Drink With What You Eat” by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page.

For fun summer picks, we asked chefs, bartenders and other experts for advice. Here’s what they have on the menu:


“Dry stouts like Guinness Extra Stout — the one with the cream-colored label — call out for a spicy dish like island jerk shrimp,” says Ryan Hembree, executive chef and director of
catering for Brewforia Beer Market based in the Boise, Idaho. “Dust skewered shrimp with dry Jamaican jerk seasoning and finish with a mix of hot sauce and fresh lime juice,” he says. Other summery options, per “What to Drink With What You Eat”: barbecued ribs, hamburgers, grilled tuna and Cajun fare.

Sparkling Wine

Yes, oysters work well with sparkling wine, but for a more seasonal pick, consider fried chicken, says Laura Mohseni, a general manager at Riverbench Vineyard and Winery in Santa Maria, CA. The drier wine can serve as a palette cleanser between bites of fattier chicken. For a slightly more sophisticated happy-medium, try this Champagne and chicken recipe from the winery.


“For an unexpected pairing, try salmon tartare,” says Armando, the bartender at New York City’s Il Punto. “What to Drink With What You Eat” also pegs lemonade as a good match for barbecue and salads.


“Next time you fire up the grill, bring along a bottle of 
big, bold Zinfandel,” suggests a spokeswoman for wine-sale site “The wine’s ripe, jammy fruit — think blackberries and
cherries — has the heft to stand up to BBQ sauce without dominating
the meal.” Chicken, beef, and pork all work, but stick to a sweeter BBQ sauce — not spicy.

Wheat Ale

“American wheat beers go very well with salad courses,” says Clori Rose-Geiger of Mia’s Pizza and Eats in Cumming, GA. Her picks: Sweetwater Sch’Weat American Wheat Ale, Gumball Head American Wheat Ale, and Bell’s Oberon Ale.


“Whether they’ll admit it or not is another story, but
every chef I know loves hot dogs,” says Hembree. “These delicious, perfect bits of
 summer Americana go great with a clean, crisp lager.” His picks: Joe’s Premium American Pilsner
from Avery Brewing, Shift Pale Lager from New Belgium Brewing, and
Session Lager from Full Sail Brewing. “What to Drink With What You Eat” says other lager pairings include pizza, salad, and anything spicy.

Root Beer

Aside from the classic vanilla ice cream pairing, “What to Drink With What You Eat” suggests hamburgers and — for a more upscale take — foie gras.

Pinot Noir

If you’re grilling, it’s a safe bet. Mohseni’s recipe picks include clam pizza, fontina stuffed burgers, and a spicy citrus flank steak.

Frugal Foodie is a journalist based in New York City who spends her days writing about personal finance and obsessing about what she’ll have for dinner. Chat with her on Twitter through @MintFoodie



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