BBQ Season Wine Pairings

Blog from Wine Director, Sean King: 

Working at Michael’s on East and Michael’s Wine Cellar, I tend to view the year in thirds. January through May comprises our Season (intentionally with a capital S).  From June to September is summer aka “BBQ and pool” season, and October through December combines both the holiday season and preparing for the mass migration of snowbirds that will bring us full-circle back to Season.

There are a few guarantees every summer here in the SRQ.  The locals will complain about how hot it is. There is almost always a 20-minute thunderstorm between 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm. Yet despite the first two, invariably someone is grilling something and drinking some kind of summer wine.  With plentiful access to boats, beaches and beautiful backyard oases in our area, this is a requisite summer activity.

But here is the thing about barbecues... You can fire up the grill for one, or for one hundred. Planned events designed to feed hordes of the hungry posted up poolside are great... but the best barbecue events seem to simply happen organically.

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My dog Clyde and I will often walk to Morton’s Market for one pound of Niman Ranch skirt steak. (Often we will stop for a requisite cold beer to quench our thirst because I’m also a local who complains about the heat).  Apply olive oil and season the meat, then onto the hot grill it goes. Six minutes later, the steak comes off the grill to cool before getting sliced and layered on top of a salad. A BBQ for one.

If I’m feeling more elaborate, I love to slow-cook baby back ribs in the oven for 7 hours while an espresso barbecue sauce simmers on the stove for a couple of hours. With hot dogs and hamburgers, I’ll enjoy a cold bottle of Stella Artois. But I prefer to pair with my ribs a red Zinfandel from Napa or Sonoma.

What is the Best Wine to Pair with Barbecue?  

At Michael’s Wine Cellar, I get asked that question quite often this time of year.  Zinfandel and barbecues are a natural pairing because they are a great deal alike. Since in a past life I was a winemaker, I have tasted literally hundreds and hundreds of Zinfandels.  As great as the best ones are, they are still classified as “casual” wines in my opinion. With no disrespect to Zin lovers, I have never really thought of this varietal as world-class wines.

Barbecues are the same way. You can grill and serve lots of really delicious food at these parties, but at the end of the day, there’s just something about a grill that keeps it a casual affair.  I’ll likely have people over to the backyard once or twice this summer, where I’ll serve ice-cold Stella, a few great rosés and very old vine Zinfandel from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma. Dashe Cellars or Martinelli will likely be my BBQ house wines for the 2019 summer season.

Both bottles are California Zinfandels, perfect red wines to pair with barbecue.  One is affordably priced under $30; the other is a bit higher in price point but still accessible at $55.95.  Both would make great hostess gifts for anyone invited to a barbecue this summer!


Zinfandel, Dashe Cellars, Dry Creek, Ca, 2015

Notes of Black cherry, black raspberry, cassis, and hints of chocolate and licorice. One of the most intense Dry Creek Zinfandels Dashe has made, with dark chocolate and black pepper spice underlying the higher toned fruits. ($25.95)

Zinfandel, “Guiseppe & Luisa” Martinelli, Russian River Valley, 2016

A full-bodied wine, with a rich nose, and aroma of spice cake, raspberry, vanilla, black cherry, and prunes. Sweet and spicy, with a long finish and chewy tannins. ($55.95)

Shop online at or visit us in store at Michael’s Wine Cellar, 1283 S. Tamiami Trail, Midtown Plaza in Sarasota.

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Reynolds Family Winery Dinner

Michael's Wine Cellar is fortunate to host many Winemaker Dinners every year. On May 4, 2019, we hosted a Winemakers Dinner featuring the superb Reynold’s Family Winery. Reynold's is a family-owned-and-operated vineyard in Napa, creating a variety of wines to please everyone's palette, from Chardonnay to Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir to Cabernet.

We had been trying to connect with Steve (Reynolds) for a wine dinner for some time and he finally said yes! The guests at this sold-out dinner immediately fell in love with Steve. His larger-than-life personality helped create a really special evening.” - Michael Klauber, Owner of Michael’s on East          

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Steve Reynolds began the night with a surprise for the guests by serving them an iced “shot” of his new tequila to start off the dinner.  His toast was in honor of his vineyard team who tend the vines that grow to eventually become Reynolds Family wines.  (Now available at Michael’s Wine Cellar) The rest of the evening included a fantastic line-up of wines perfectly paired with an elegant four-course dinner designed by our Executive Chef, Jamil Pineda. Our new Pastry Chef, Ray Lajoie, blew everyone away with this special dessert. (pictured below)

We are so grateful to have hosted Steve Reynolds for this one-of-a-kind interactive dinner. Many guests discovered Reynold’s Family Winery for the first time and will be coming back for a new favorite bottle when it’s available in our store.

Michael’s Wine Cellar’s Winemakers Dinners provide guests a unique opportunity to develop a personal connection to a winery and “put a face to the label”. We are proud to bring these experiences to our guests and help create lifelong memories.

Stay tuned to our Wine Cellar Facebook Page for event announcements, wine releases, and specials!

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About Reynold’s Family Winery

In 1995, Suzie and Steve Reynolds had an idea to move to Napa, start a winery, and raise their family in the country. The couple purchased an old 14-acre farm that had a lot of potential and made the first steps to making their dream come true. Fast forward more than 20 years, and the Reynolds Family Winery is now a renowned destination for visitors from around the globe. Our small-batch wines are known for their complexity and balance of flavors, and our idyllic location provides an intimate tasting experience for wine connoisseurs, novice tasters, and everyone in between. Visit to learn more!


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Michael's Wine Cellar
1283 S. Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, FL 34239