Grilled burgers and hot dogs
Spices? What spices? These babies are straightforward on-the-grill meats. You know, the kind your kids will actually eat.
The easy choice: Syrahs from California "deliver lots of fruit and easygoing pleasure," says Wesson. "They don't require any synaptic firepower to enjoy. They're happy wines and rarely fail to deliver the smiles." But stick with the California bottles, which are fruitier than their cousins from other places. No need to spend a lot: One that's less than $15 will usually do the trick.
Easy: Rosenblum Cuvee Syrah 2004/05 ($13)
The adventure: A sparkling Shiraz from Australia is "usually fruity but dry or off-dry, and with effervescence that's less aggressive than you find in Champagne," says Wesson. "It has wonderful mouthwatering flavors and nice acidity."
Adventure: Rumball Sparkling Shiraz NV ($25)
Veggie burger - sautéed or microwaved
Some people live on them. Some just tolerate them - barely. No matter how you feel about veggie burgers, your spirits will be lifted by pairing them with a refreshing white wine.
The easy choice: An off-dry Riesling from Germany will cut through the vegetable oil (on the burger as a result from sautéing it) and pair nicely with the slight sweetness of the mixed vegetables.
Easy: Dr. Loosen/Dr. L Riesling 2005 ($12)
The adventure: Hop over to Galicia for an Albariño, "the most vaunted white wine in all of Spain," says Wesson. It's brilliant with all sorts of shellfish and seafood, and is also great for veggie-based dishes.
Adventure: Morgadío Albariño 2005 ($20)
Mac and cheese
We're not talking about any out-of-the-box mac and cheese. We're talking about the multicheese version you make from a recipe in Gourmet. While many people think you should always pair cheese with reds, "most wine folks will tell you that white wines tend to go better with a wide range of cheeses," says Wesson. The same holds true here "because of the creaminess of the sauce and the multiplicity of cheeses" in the dish.
The easy choice: Go with a Pinot Gris from Alsace. "They're rich and full of flavor, yet have this lovely ability to unzip rich foods," says Wesson.
Easy: Lucien Albrecht Cuvée Romanus Pinot Gris 2005 ($18)
The adventure: Wesson raves about his recent experience of drinking a California sparkling wine in the style of a Blanc de Noirs. "It's a white wine made from red grapes to give it a little bit of extra body and flavor," he says. The effervescence serves to refresh the palate and counter the saltiness of mac and cheese.
Adventure: Domaine Chandon Blanc de Noirs NV ($22)