Hot Tips for Grilling Greatness

Grilled food, good. Burned houses, people or pets, not good. Make sure to keep the grill out of the direct line of foot-traffic and activities, and preferably 10 feet away from houses and structures. Also keep an eye out for overhead obstructions such as trees. Sometimes the convection heat alone can ignite an unforeseen fire. NEVER leave a grill unattended.

There are multiple gadgets and gizmos out there to “assist” in the art of grilling. While some of them are “fun”, you really only need a few things:
1) A solid pair of tongs and spatula
2) A good wire brush
3) A reliable grill
4) If you’re new to grilling, a good meat thermometer

Allow your meats to warm up slightly. This will help them to cook evenly. A cold cut of meat can be “tight” and cause uneven cooking. A good rule of thumb is to let your meats stand at room temperature (covered) for 20 minutes.

A key component to the best grilling is having a clean grill. Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to clean your grill with 409 or Simple Green (as a matter of fact, I would recommend you NEVER do this). Rather, during the preheat session, right when your grill is nearly ready, use a good wire brush to clean off any remnants of a previous cookout. To prevent the food from sticking and make the clean-up process a little faster, you’ll want to oil or grease up the grate. Using a tightly wadded paper towel dipped in olive or vegetable oil, lightly grease the grate, avoiding any contact with flames. Make sure you use your tongs for this step! To add a little more flavor, you can also use a chunk of steak or bacon fat to grease this up.

There is something about a good old fashioned charcoal grill that adds a classic flavor to everything that touches its grate. To get the best out of your charcoal grilling, make sure you prepare the coals well before you’re ready to start cooking. Open all vents in the lid and underneath the grill. Use enough charcoal to solidly cover the bottom grate, and then stack in a pyramid shape and light. Give the coals enough time to form a thin white ash, and then carefully spread them over the grate to form a solid layer. Put the grilling grate on, and allow it to heat up for 5 minutes before you start cooking. Avoid using lighter fluid, as this can add an unfavorable taste to the foods you grill.

Gas grills are convenient, quick and for the most part, provide even and consistent grilling. Like a charcoal grill, you want to make sure that you warm up your gas grill well before you put the foods on. Light your gas grill, and turn to High for 8-10 minutes, or until the surface is searing hot. Reduce the flame to Medium for 2-3 minutes before you start grilling. This will help the heat distribute evenly and let the grill settle to an ideal temperature.

A tried and true secret to perfect grilling is “only flip once”. Constantly turning the foods on the grill can result in overcooked and/or unevenly cooked food. Familiarize yourself with the foods you are cooking and their recommended cooking times to know when it’s time to flip.

It’s so tempting to take that grilled steak or roast right from the grill and straight to your plate and cut right in. This however, will not give you the best flavor possible. For the juiciest steak or roast, remove them from the grill and let them rest for 5-6 minutes. Use a “foil tent” to help keep them warm. Letting them rest, will allow for the juices to settle back in.

If you’re looking for something easy to grill, choosing what you grill is almost as important as how you grill:

  • Shrimp, salmon and clams are great because they cook fast and are a fairly low maintenance ingredient for both the newbie and the “seasoned” chef. Salmon can be enjoyed from rare to medium and cooks quickly. Shrimp and clams tell you when they are done; shrimp turn pink and clam shells open up.
  • Don’t have a lot of time? Choose thin cuts of meat such as flank steak or veal cutlets which cook in a flash. Perfect for slicing for fajitas or served over a crisp salad.
  • Feeding a crowd? Choose larger cuts such as tri-tip and pork loin. Although they take longer to cook, they are pretty much a “set it and forget it” food and are big enough to feed your hungry crowd.


Barbecued and grilled foods are delicious on their own, but when you pair them with a spicy, rich and bold red wine, you downright perfection! Pick wines that compliment your barbecued and grilled foods, and any spices or marinades you’re using. Zinfandel, Barbera and Syrah are just three varieties that pair nicely with a wide variety of grilled meats and vegetables.  Check out Scott’s Sizzling BBQ Sampler.

Marinades and spices are great ways to add some flavor to everything you put on the grill.  Our Zesty Zinfandel Marinade is a quick and easy way to liven up any cut of beef, lamb or pork.

You can also add different flavors by changing what you grill with.  Scott’s Balls are the perfect ingredient for adding rich flavor to your next barbecueing event.  These oak balls were used to develop that classic French Oak character in your favorite Scott Harvey Zinfandel and now they can be used to enhance the flavor of your favorite grilled foods.  Each bag of Scott’s Balls comes with a great recipe for smoked ribs.