We asked Dan Matuszek at Brix, with locations at Village Pointe and Midtown Crossing, for refreshing wines to accompany summer's most popular fare.
» Belle Glos Meiomi Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara, Calif., 2012 ($21.99)
The light, fleshy meat of salmon is perfect in weight and texture for one of America's favorite and fastest-growing grape varieties: pinot noir. There is nothing better than grilled salmon with fresh herbs, which pairs nicely with the earthier flavors of a great pinot noir.
» Conn Creek Herrick Red, Napa Valley, Calif., 2009 ($24.99)
When it comes to red meat, is there anything better than a juicy, grilled rib-eye steak with a light spice rub paired with a great Napa Valley red? A cabernet-based wine with a lot of structure, bold flavors and a hint of spice can make that rib-eye even more tasty. Conn Creek's Bordeaux-styled wine is a blend of Napa Valley cabernet and the four other noble grapes (cabernet franc, malbec, merlot and petite verdot) of Bordeaux, France, plus a touch of syrah to heighten the spice level. This is the quintessential pairing due to the full tannins in the wine that hold up well to the marbled, fatty rib-eye.
» Laguna Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Calif., 2009 ($29.99)
A great way to prepare chicken is slow-fried in butter. A rich, buttery chardonnay is a wonderful pairing, able to cut through the fat of the crispy chicken skin and mirror the buttery coating.
» Manos Negras Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina, 2010 ($19.99)
Even though this is red meat, a burger is “humble” and needs a rich, fruity wine. Malbec holds up to the beef and condiments, and its smoky character can highlight a nicely charred burger. Its velvety smooth black fruit flavor will make you want to skip the ketchup and mustard.
Footnote: Omaha native and Creighton Prep alumni Jeff Mausbach, who lives in Argentina, founded Manos Negras Malbec.
» Bree Riesling, Germany, 2011 ($12.99)
There is a reason this is a German-inspired sausage. Typical bratwurst seasonings may include salt, pepper, nutmeg and lemon zest. Riesling or a pinot gris in a drier style can carry enough acidity to clear your palate. Don't save these wines just for salad. Not overly complex, both riesling and pinot gris have a touch of minerality, citrus and stone fruit flavors, and their clean, bright character surprisingly holds up to this spiced meat.
» Muenster + Nine Vines Moscato, Australia, 2012 ($12.99)
This cheese has a very mild flavor and is usually served as an appetizer so it doesn't “overload” your palate too soon. Moscato, the fastest-growing wine in the United States, is a sweet yet delicate and refreshing accompaniment.
Footnote: This is a “still wine” Moscato (not carbonated like Moscato d'Asti) and very tasty for the summer for people that like sweeter-styled wines.
» Blue cheese + Stella Rosa Rosso, Italy, non-vintage ($12.99)
This cheese has a lot of flavor, though it's a bit salty and sharp. It can also have a slight bitter flavor. A sweet, fruity, low-alcohol and chillable red wine is the ticket here.
Footnote: Considered a “gateway” wine for its ability to convert non-wine drinkers and young palates. Pairs magnificently with angel food cake topped with strawberries and whipped cream.
» Alexander Valley Vineyards Gewürztraminer, Mendocino County, Calif., 2011 ($11.99)
If you're only drinking Tsing Tao beer with your Chinese food, then you're missing out. Chinese, Thai, Indian and other foods that have a little bit of spice pair nicely with gewürztraminer, a sweeter-styled white wine that exhibits a slight hint of spice itself. The sweetness of gewurzt offsets the spices in the cuisine.