The next time you decide to toss some steaks or big fat burgers on the grill, try pairing them with the 2006 Louis M. Martini Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon (about $15 at wine shops and big box stores), a dignified and multilayered red that goes down easy with meat hot off the coals.
Although we wouldn't call it light, this cab is not as heavy as some and there's not even a whiff of the leather or tobacco one might expect. Nonetheless, it is mouth-filling and has the edge we look for in a good strong red. Swirled in the glass it displays nice legs and releases a seductive bouquet of dark fruits. The dominant tastes as the wine opens on the tongue are cherry, blackberry and chocolate, with discrete undertones of rich earth and spice. At mid palate a hint of mushroom creeps in ahead of a very long, very complex finish.
This accessible but thoroughly satisfying cab is blended from grapes from a number of vineyards, hence its Sonoma County tag. Its vibrant ruby color and its mellow tannins come from a vinification process that begins with 20 to 30 percent of the grapes left whole for extended skin contact in the vat and ends about two weeks later when secondary, malolactic fermentation is complete.
Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.