A few weeks back, I read about Sonoma and Mendocino vineyards that were producing especially smoky-tasting wines after the region experienced some far-reaching fires.

A few weeks back, I read about Sonoma and Mendocino vineyards that were producing especially smoky-tasting wines after the region experienced some far-reaching fires.

The result was vintages with especially smoky overtones, what producers are calling "smoke taint." This unanticipated addition might be unwelcome to them, but I know how many people's mouths water over that scent and taste.

In the wine world, that's what toasted and oaky barrels are for. Europia wine shop manager Bob Corkwell shared the following oaky, smoky red wines that - surprise! - happen to pair well with foods prepared on the grill.


Genesis Merlot (2006)

Medium-bodied and oaky. "It's an oaked merlot, but not overbearingly oaked," Corkwell said. "I always suggest it if someone wants an oaky merlot."

Region: Columbia Valley

Cost: $16

Pair it with: Anything off the grill, but especially spare ribs


McLaren Vale The Footbolt Shiraz (2007)

A big black cherry essence with a white-peppery finish. "It's got that sweet from the raspberry, but then it's got that little bite," Corkwell said. "It's a good combination."

Region: Australia

Cost: $21

Pair it with: Grilled chicken in a sweet glaze


The Red One

Cab, shiraz and other red grapes make for a blend that's fruity and slightly spicy. "It's versatile," Corkwell said. "If you're not sure what people are cooking, this would be a good one to bring."

Region: South Australia

Cost: $11

Pair it with: Just about anything, including hot dogs and hamburgers