I love to cook for large groups. My favorite is about ten friends around the table. The menu is usually easier than easy. I throw something on the grill and the rest falls in place. With my group of friends, regardless os whose house we are going to, the first out of people’s mouths, right after “Yes, I can make it”, is “What can I bring?”
We always end up with a great collection of appetizers, veggies, salads and other fun things. It is that collection of everyone’s favorites which makes the evening. No one ever hesitates unless the answer to that question is “Bring wine.”
Sometimes I can almost feel the hesitation behind the cheerful “Sure I can do that.” Maybe it is because I am a Certified Somm, or maybe it is because wine can be just plain scary. Really though, it doesn’t have to be that way. Like I’ve said before, this is not a pass fail test. The only “right” wine is the one you like.
Let me share a few more secrets with you. Just because I am a Somm, it does’t mean I know everything or I never pick a bottle of wine that is just OK. Nor does it mean I don’t have to do a bit of searching to find what I am looking for. I count on a few key resources, influencers some call them, to find the gems.
If you want to learn more about wine, there is no better place to go than Winefolly. Wine folly is the brainchild of Madeline Puckett and a couple of her friends. Here they break down the world of wine in infographics. Yes, pictures. No extensive reading, no “better than thou” language; pictures. Here is an example:
Easy right? So, we are talking about steak on the grill. According to this infographic we should be looking at medium reds and bold reds. That narrows it down. Wait… which reds are bold and which are medium again? Well, most of them. If you are choosing for an event and you are not sure, pick up a blend. Blends are a winemaker’s way of maintaining consistency across vintages. They usually shoot for medium or better so you are set. Even if the label says “Red Table Wine” chances are it will be just fine.
There’s an App For That
Still not convinced? Don’t worry. There is an app for that. Let me introduce you to my good friend Vivino.Open the app on your phone and take a pic of the wine you are thinking about. You will be able to see how other people just like you rated it. These are not a bunch of wine aficionados giving you scores, these are real people posting what they really think. Think of it like a Yelp for wine but better. Not only can you see what others thought, you can create your own list of favs. Never again will you have to wonder if you liked that one or not. You can log it, track it and in many cases buy it right from the app.
OK, we are set with the wine. Let’s talk steak.
Whatever else you think of Gordon Ramsay, the man can cook. I know it may sound odd, but I cook a steak on the grill in much the same as he demonstrates in the kitchen. I will embed the YouTube at the end so you can see how easy it is, but first here are a few tips:
Always start with the steak at room temperature. If you don’t have the 30 or so minutes it takes to let it rise to temp, seal it in a ziplock bag and submerge it in water just a bit above room temp. By the time your BBQ (or cast iron pan) is HOT HOT HOT and ready for your steaks, your steaks will be ready too. How hot should your grill be? You want a vibrant sizzle when you put the steaks on. Hold your hand about 6 to 8 inches above the grill. It it get too hot to keep it there more than about 2 seconds, it is ready.
He puts oil in the pan, I brush oil on the steaks. Use olive oil because it browns nicely. It also flames up a bit. I don’t get too excited about this. If you start with a steak that is room temp, it will only be on the grill a couple of minutes a side. That’s not long enough to turn it into a pile of char. Just gently move it if you need to.
Season your steaks; salt and pepper with maybe a little garlic and rosemary. (Salt them again, trust me you are not using enough).
Grab some butter before you head out to the grill. You will need it in a couple of minutes. I put it in a small pan I can place on the grill just after the steak is flipped. The browned butter is great spooned over the steak just before you take it off. (You will understand when you watch the vid.)
Grab a meat thermometer. If you want medium rare, internal temp should be 130 degrees when you pull it off the grill. Let it rest until 140 degrees, about 7 min.
OK, here is how the master does it:
Nothing says summer like a steak sizzling on the grill and smell of the BBQ in the air. So who’s hungry? Meet me at my house. Bring wine.