Summer is in full swing, and the big July 4th weekend is just around the corner—time for some easy grilling and some white wines to match. If you're entertaining outdoors, try this flavorful, Asian-inflected chicken recipe from Los Angeles chef David Myers of Comme Ça, Pizzeria Ortica and the Grand Award-winning Sona (which has recently closed and will open in a new location in 2011.)
With the chicken dish, pour a full-bodied white that has both the heft and acidity to stand up to the marinade's bold flavors and the smokiness imparted by grilling. We have put together a list, below, of recently rated white wines that fit that description, all of them from the United States, in honor of the holiday.
MARINATED GRILLED CHICKEN BREASTS
• 2 whole chicken breasts on the bone, skin on
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
• 1 cup whole milk yogurt
• 3 tablespoons red miso paste
• 1 teaspoon mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine used almost exclusively for cooking)
• 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
• 1 tablespoon grated ginger
• 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
• 1/2 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
1. Season the chicken with salt and black pepper, and use a fork to poke several holes in the chicken.
2. In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, miso paste, mirin and soy sauce and whisk until well blended. Fold in the ginger, garlic and jalapeño.
3. Place the chicken in the bowl with the marinade solution and turn and gently toss to make sure chicken is evenly coated. Cover the bowl with plastic and refrigerate 3 to 6 hours.
4. Prepare a hot fire on a charcoal or gas grill. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Note that the chicken should not be dripping with excess marinade, but it is not necessary to wipe the marinade off, as it will help the chicken stay moist as it grills. Grill the chicken over medium-high heat on both sides until cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Note: The following list is a selection of wines from recently rated releases.
MERRYVALE Chardonnay Napa Valley Starmont 2008 Score: 90 | $20
Fresh and vibrant, with a full-bodied mix of tangerine, nectarine, peach and pear flavors that are intense, complex, layered and cleansing. This holds on to its core fruitiness. Drink now through 2013. 34,050 cases made. —J.L.
WILLIAM HILL Chardonnay Napa Valley 2007 Score: 89 | $22
Fragrant fig, honeysuckle, pear and floral scents are rich, full-bodied, focused and balanced, showing a subtle touch of butterscotch. Drink now through 2012. 14,000 cases made. —J.L.
AU BON CLIMAT Chardonnay Santa Barbara County 2008 Score: 88 | $20
Displays aromas of cedar, pineapple and tropical fruit, this is full-bodied, featuring sour green apple, spice and pithy citrus notes on the finish. Drink now through 2014. 15,000 cases made. —J.L.
CHATEAU ST. JEAN Fumé Blanc Sonoma County 2008 Score: 88 | $13
Intense smoke and honeysuckle aromatics mingle well together, leading to crisp and refreshing lemon, tangerine and yellow apple flavors on a medium body, with good acidity. The smoke flavors persist on the finish. Drink now. 42,000 cases made. —M.W.
FREI BROTHERS Chardonnay Russian River Valley Reserve 2007 Score: 88 | $20
Ripe, floral, peachy Chardonnay flavors are clean, delicate and full-bodied, but not heavy, ending with a subtle touch of oak. Drink now through 2014. 84,600 cases made. —J.L.
ROBERT MONDAVI Fumé Blanc Napa Valley 2008 Score: 88 | $20
Concentrated and robust peach, citrus, golden raisin and apple flavors have a firm structure and refreshing juicy acidity. Smooth and sophisticated, with a long, spicy finish. Drink now through 2012. 50,543 cases made. —M.W.
SANFORD Chardonnay Santa Barbara County 2007 Score: 88 | $22
There's spice, citrus, pear and a touch of jalapeño pepper in this Chardonnay, which, though crisp and refreshing, turns rich and creamy on the finish. Drink now through 2013. 17,480 cases made. —J.L.
SOUVERAIN Chardonnay Alexander Valley 2008 Score: 88 | $17
Intense, juicy, vibrant and full-bodied, with a complex mix of creamy oak, pear and nectarine flavors that are pure and focused. Drink now through 2014. 32,000 cases made. —J.L.
STERLING Chardonnay Napa Valley 2008 Score: 88 | $15
Fresh, vibrant and full-bodied, with tangy nectarine, peach and green apple flavors that are pure and focused, ending with a cleansing finish. Drink now through 2014. 50,000 cases made. —J.L.
BERINGER Chardonnay Napa Valley 2008 Score: 87 | $16
Ripe and full-bodied, with tangy pear, nectarine, melon, spice and light cedary oak character, ending with a cleansing finish. Drink now through 2013. 47,000 cases made. —J.L.
ESTANCIA Chardonnay Monterey County Pinnacles Ranches 2008 Score: 87 | $12
Intense, with spicy floral and grassy notes that are full-bodied, with Key lime, citrus and green apple flavors that are pure and refreshing. Drink now. 268,000 cases made. —J.L.
LUCKY STAR Chardonnay California 2008 Score: 87 | $9
Fresh, clean and vibrant, with tasty pear, melon, citrus and spice flavors that are full-bodied, ending with a rich aftertaste. Very impressive. Drink now. 30,000 cases made. —J.L.
MATCHBOOK Chardonnay Dunnigan Hills Old Head 2008 Score: 87 | $15
Ripe peach, melon and baked apple flavors have a nice touch of nutmeg and spice in this full-bodied white, ending with a broad, full finish. Drink now through 2012. 12,000 cases made. —J.L.
WILD HORSE Chardonnay Central Coast 2008 Score: 87 | $17
Rich, intense and full-bodied, with spice, baked apple, melon and creamy pear notes that are fresh, clean and vibrant. Drink now through 2014. 65,061 cases made. —J.L.