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Summer in Sonoma sizzles with the aromas of backyard and beachside cookouts. Just about any meat, fish and vegetable is fair game for the grill. Click through the gallery for Sonoma wines that pair perfectly with the charry, smoky goodness grilling imparts to food.
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For Chicken and Fish - Dutton-Goldfield 2016 Green Valley of Russian River Valley Shop Block Pinot Blanc ($30): Crisp honeydew melon, white peach and pear flavors ride a wave of bracing, mouthwatering acidity, with a minerally finish. It’s not a fruit bomb, but rather a layered, elegant wine that’s compatible with a wide range of summer fare.
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For Chicken and Fish - Valley of the Moon 2014 Sonoma County Pinot Blanc ($19): Friendly as a Golden Retriever, this wine delivers an ambrosial mix of tropical, citrus, pear and apple aromas and flavors, with a vibrant and pleasantly salty finish. It’s juicy, generous and crowd-pleasing.
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For Salmon and Tuna - Davis Family Vineyards 2014 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($45): Guy Davis makes a range of Pinot Noirs from Russian River Valley, and this is his flagship, a blend of grapes grown throughout the region. It offers lively cherry fruit, hints of cola, sarsaparilla and spicy oak, and goes down ever so easily, thanks to its supple tannins and silky texture.
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For Salmon and Tuna - Francis Ford Coppola Winery 2014 Director’s Cut Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($27): Don’t be thrown by the Bordeaux-shaped bottle: The wine inside is 100 percent Pinot Noir, the glass chosen by filmmaker Coppola to accommodate the wrap-around zoetrope-style label. Firmly structured yet generous, the wine boasts black cherry, plum and blackberry fruit and dashes of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.
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For Burgers and Ribs - Tom Mackey Cellars 2014 Montecillo Vineyard Sonoma Valley Zinfandel ($30): Mackey, founding winemaker at St. Francis Winery & Vineyards, retired in 2011 after 29 years. He’s back, with his own brand (with partner Clyde Galantine) and a Zinfandel that is old-vine and old-school, with intense, brambly blackberry fruit, lots of spice and the structure to stand up to the boldest of grilled flavors. 15.4% alcohol.
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For Burgers and Ribs - Decoy 2015 Sonoma County Zinfandel ($25): Napa Valley’s Duckhorn Vineyards smartly relies on Sonoma grapes for its Decoy line of wines. Value-priced (for a Napa-based producer), the Decoy Zin is widely available and approachable, with juicy red-berry fruit, baking spice, supple tannins and relatively low alcohol (13.9%) for Zinfandel. It’s a more moderate style than the bold Mackey Zinfandel, yet just as versatile for serving with red meat off the grill.
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For Steak - Dutcher Crossing 2014 Proprietor’s Reserve Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($32): Winemaker Kerry Damskey added 25 percent Syrah to this Cabernet Sauvignon, infusing a meaty, smoky character to the wine — a culinary complement to grilled meat. Black cherry, cedar, barrel spice and gentle leafy herbs linger on the long, structured finish.
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For Steak - Rodney Strong Vineyards 2014 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon ($20): This solid, straightforward Cabernet delivers everything one would want to drink with a grilled ribeye: firm tannins to cut through the fat, textbook black cherry and cedar character, and enough acidity to cleanse the palate — at a great price.