Corkscrew - Keeping your cool

Pair grilled meat with a hearty white wine

I walk in the door with sweat still dewing my face, having just transitioned from goosebumpy temps at the office, walking through roasting heat, then into a baking sauna doubling as my dark-blue vehicle. In 95 degrees, the air conditioning has little hope of keeping up and it groans under the stress. I refocus on positive thoughts, the contents of my fridge: ribeye steaks, homemade Caesar salad fixings, and a few cold white wines. But wait, those two things don’t mesh, right — steak and white wine? Perhaps a red would fare better like traditional cabernet sauvignon, a burly merlot or a smoky Spanish number? But my pits still glisten, so even chilled red wine isn’t going to cut through this humid evening.

I sprinkle tart, savory Worstershire sauce on the ribeyes, along with dry sherry, garlic salt, onion powder, paprika, ancho chile powder and fresh black pepper. Geez, I’m salivating already. Not sure how vegetarians live without the bounty of beef. That would just suck — a jiggling slab of grilled tofu doesn’t reach the same level of toothsome culinary bliss.

I light up the grill. We need a new one. Rust consumes the side panels and the jerry-rigged metal flame covers. They don’t even make replacement parts for this clunker. I’m feeling cheap but glad it still works, at least for tonight. No money in the squeezed budget for a new one.

I need some cooking wine. But not for the food.

Some rosé would do nicely — perhaps that Triennes 08 Vin de Pays I bought recently? Last week, that put a tingle on my toes. Wonder why they don’t use a screwcap? Silly French. Thankfully, it’s drinking as well as it did the first time. That happens sometimes — caught in the moment, I really savor a delicious wine and next time I taste it, it’s crappy. Yes — time, place, company and temperature affect the flavor of wine at any given moment, either psychologically or physiologically. Happens to everyone. But not this time. This rosé rocks. (More rosé recommendations)

I slap the steaks on the grill, and as the aroma of seared meat seduces the air, I eagerly await hubby’s arrival from work. When beef cooks over open flame, he breaks into a grin that’s heart melting. It’s almost Pavlovian ... are men hard-wired for that?

Man, it’s frickin’ hot out. Time to retreat back inside and figure out what to drink with dinner. I could choose the Triennes, but that’d be better to finish later all by itself. Hell, it’s Friday, we could down two bottles by the end of the night. Been done before.

Sauvignon blanc, albarino ... oh! Oaky, buttery chardonnay. Perfect — the oak matches the earthiness of the meat and the creaminess tames the spiciness. And it will chill us down. But I can’t go cheap ... it needs acidity and complexity, not just oak and sugar. And I ain’t drinking sucky wine after this week. In general, $15 yields a decent pour. And hey, it’s the weekend. And steak night. And we’ve earned it. No other excuse required to open a good bottle.

Recommended Wines

Triennes 2008 Rosé Vin de Pays (France) Hails from a region just outside Provence in southern France and made from the relatively obscure cinsault grape. Flowery, honeysuckle aromas and banana chips, candied strawberry and wet rock minerality envelop the tongue. Light-hearted, refreshing and has an intriguing black pepper finish. Drink very cold. Sw=1. $16. 4.5 stars.

Catena 2007 Chardonnay Mendoza (Argentina) Made from vineyards grown in a cooler, high altitude region to achieve lively acidity, yet also to gain ripeness crucial for breathtaking chardonnay. Soft and medium-bodied with layers of creamy vanilla, mango, butter-sautéed peaches and a refreshing citrus finish. Sw=2. $18. 4 stars.

Sweetness (Sw) rating: 1-10. Star rating: 1-5. Reach Taylor at taylor.eason at cln.com, on Twitter @tayloreason, and on Facebook.

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