A healthy woman working out in a group.
A healthy woman working out in a group. Credit: rawpixel via 123RF

Light salad or grilled salmon make for delicious dishes perfect for the warm evenings of summer. Plus, those long summer days leave even more time for designing the ideal dinner. The hardest part may not be collecting the recipes or the cooking—and definitely not the eating—but rather finding the perfect wine to drink along with it!

If you’re looking to wow a partner, family, or friend with your sommelier-like knowledge, we’ve got you covered with our list of tasty dinner ideas and the best wines to go with them. The recipes are relaxed and interchangeable so you can adapt them as needed and substitute the meat options for vegetarian options like tofu, tempeh, or beans.

Salad & Sauvignon Blanc

Salads are healthy, versatile, and interchangeable dishes, making it easy to add a summer-y twist! You can make a bowl of leafy greens with all your favorite vegetables and a protein, and then top with vinaigrette. Or take your salad skills to the next level with this scrumptious Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad that includes a lighter dressing and amps up the flavor with tomatoes and olives. Salads like these pair wonderfully with the bubbly, sparkling flavor of a Sauvignon Blanc. The vinegar in the dressing will balance the tartness of the wine and pull out the fruitiness side of its flavor.

Chicken & Chardonnay

A simple, homemade, roasted chicken like this one is a nice after-work meal with Southern comfort food qualities, minus the excess calories. The silky sensation of a Chardonnay, especially a California Chardonnay, evens out the rigidness of cooked chicken. Chardonnay pairs so well with chicken that it’s often a part of chicken recipes itself!

Credit: Олександр Федюк via 123RF

Salmon & Rosé

Salmon is an extremely versatile summer option. You can prepare the fish by searing it, smoking it or making it into sushi, and then adding various herbs and citrus for a tangy taste, or using sauces for a sweet or spicy flavor. This versatility means that salmon can be paired with many types of wines, such as a Rosé, Champagne, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, or Pinot Grigio. This recipe uses a simple lemon-and-olive flavoring and is perfect for a pink Rosé. Add fresh basil on top and serve it with roasted vegetables like broccoli or asparagus to green up the plate.

Steak & Cabernet Sauvignon

Recreate a five-star steakhouse restaurant experience at home this summer with this perfect grill-out protein. Use a nice rub or marinade on it with this Simple Summer Beef Sirloin Steak recipe that uses brown sugar, red pepper, chili powder, and garlic. You can also add it to these Summer Steak Kabobs or make this delicious, light Grilled Summer Steak Salad with Corn. Whichever recipe you choose, you’ll want to pair it with a rich Cabernet Sauvignon—the acidity in the wine contrasts well with the steak texture.

Portobello Mushroom & Pinot Noir  

This Grilled Portobello Mushrooms recipe leverages simple ingredients for a tangy marinade plus the quick-roasting power of a grill that makes it perfect for vegetarians. Make this Garlic Butter Sauce for a topping that will ensure these mushrooms are something you’ll want to enjoy all year long. Plus, there are many other meals you can make out of a portobello mushroom, such as these Mini Pizzas that substitute mushroom in place of crust and these knock-your-socks-off Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Crispy Goat Cheese. The earthy flavor of a portobello mushroom pairs perfectly with a savory red Pinot Noir, which does a beautiful job at not taking over the flavor bursts of the mushroom!

These healthy recipes have no heavy sauces or crazy additives. Pair them with the perfect wine, and you’ll be on your way to a guilt-free, peaceful summer evening you’ll want to recreate again and again.