Tag Archives: bbq wines


    Barbecues, Beaches and Picnics…

    By Angela Mount

    With teachers all over Bath looking happier by the day as their summer sojourn approaches, parents considering the challenges of entertaining their little darlings for over six weeks, and residents braced for the next influx of tourists, it’s safe to say summer is truly upon us.

    Whatever the weather, we all love a bit of Alfresco, and new outdoor drinking spaces are popping up all over the city. With entertainment and escape at the top of the agenda, barbecues, picnics and day trips to the beach are often the order of the day, regardless of the weather.

    Barbecues and picnics have become an art form, far removed from the charred burger, or limp cheese and tomato sandwiches of old. Be it beach, outdoor concert, day by the river, or impromptu party in the garden, my job is to ensure that your vinous choices match up to the culinary delights that you will be enjoying.

    First up, a few tips; for barbecues, stock up on ice, fill a couple of large buckets, or plastic storage crates, and add water to keep everything chilled. For spirit-lovers, put a bottle in the freezer (it won’t freeze), to keep cocktails icy cold. For days on the beach invest in a wine cooler sleeve or two, and keep everything even colder in the cool bag. Impromptu picnic by the river? Take a ball of string! Yes, I mean it - if your wine or beer is too warm, tie the string round a tree or rock, tie the other end to the bottle and dangle in the dabbling brook –it’s tried and tested, and yes it works. And finally, screwcap is definitely easier.

    Onto the wine itself. Let’s start with fizz – this isn’t the time to bring out your vintage Champagne; keep things light and fresh. With the Prosecco craze in overdrive, try a similarly fresh, but more flavoursome fizz from the eastern side of northern Italy.  Cleto Chiarli Pignoletto brut NV is zesty and lively, with a welcome citrus and green apple tang.

    Sundowners in the garden?  You can’t go wrong with a thirst-quenching G&T – try Jensens Bermondsey gin, a classic London dry gin with floral and citrus verve; or, ahead of a seafood extravaganza, conjure up the spirit of Andalucia, with a searingly cold, super-fresh glass of tangy, salty La Guita Manzanilla, just perfect with olives and salted almonds.

    At this time of year, keep things light, in terms of both style and alcohol. Avoid heavily oaked wines, and opt for fruity, fresher styles.  Cotes de Provence is now a Summer staple, and Great Western Wine have an impressive array of these, but if you’re looking to drink pink with your barbecue, why not move a little further west from the Riviera and try the vibrantly fruity, and ridiculously good value Domaine du Donjon, Minervois 2016, stashed with red berry and citrus-licked fruit; bring on the seared tuna.

    For lunchtime picnics, Vinho Verde is the perfect choice, and rapidly coming back into fashion – forget the sweet fizzy stuff of old, today’s versions, are crisp, dry, and lemony-bright with the merest hint of spritz, and utterly refreshing both in taste and in lightness of alcohol. Vinho Verde Quinta da Lixa 2016 is ideal, at a mere 10.5% alcohol, and won’t have you dozing off after lunch. Enjoy with the freshest of salads.

    Staying with the bright and breezy theme, but veering into unchartered waters, the little-known Txakolina Adur 2015 would be a worthy addition to your summer wine collection.  From the wild and rugged hills of the Basque country, this dry white is as pinpoint–sharp as a laser beam, with mouth-watering green apple and lemon tones, and a lip-smacking zesty, bone dry finish – and crying out for grilled sardines, the freshest of prawns, or calamari.

    My final white is much closer to home – just down the road in Dorset; English sparkling wine now stands up to Champagne in international competitions, but still wines are less well-known. I recently discovered the appropriately-named Lyme Bay Shoreline 2016 – light and pretty with a citrus tang and floral notes. Perfect for a day by the sea, or a holiday BBQ, and a mean match with take away fish and chips, watching the sun set over the water.

    As far as reds are concerned, either opt for lighter, fresher styles, in which case chill them lightly, or go for bold, soft and spicy, the perfect partners for flavour-packed barbecues. In the former camp sits the rather delicious and award-winning, Austrian red, Hopler Blaufrankisch 2013 – ripe and juicy, with lashings of sweetly-spiced blackberry fruit, it’s delightfully soft and silky; spot on with sharing platters of prosciutto, salami, antipasti and also barbecued chicken. And finally, my choice of red for steak, minted lamb and spicy kebabs would be the Aussie Skillogalee Basket Pressed Shiraz 2013, a decadently rich, indulgent and velvety red, oozing with voluptuous dark fruit and spice, and perfect for sultry summer evenings (if we get them).

    Happy holidays!

  • Time to Sizzle

    Bank Holiday BBQ Wines

    There’s nothing like the unmistakable smell of a smoky, sweet, aromatic BBQ!  We’re in the peak of the holiday period, and in true British spirit, barbecues are being lit all over the country, in the sun, on beaches, and under umbrellas.

    Burgers, steak and sausages are barbecue naturals, but these days it’s all about the marinades, the seasonings, and a touch of the exotic. Here are some of my favourite quick and easy marinades with wine ideas to match:

    (Vary the quantities of each ingredient depending on taste)

    Elki Pedro Ximenez Elqui ValleyJapanese style chicken – mix teriyaki sauce with some soy sauce, clear honey, crushed garlic and lime juice.  Pour over boneless chicken thighs, marinade for an hour, then BBQ or grill.  The marinade is sweet, but the spicing is delicate, so I opt for aromatic whites; Elki Pedro Ximenez is a great value, a firm favourite, and perfect for a weekday treat; from the northernmost outposts of Chile’s wine regions, it’s full of peach, apricot and lemon zest, with a honeysuckle scent, but a deliciously dry finish, which copes perfectly with the sweetness of the teriyaki and the soy sauces.

    Ribafreixo, Pato Frio Cashmere Rosé

    Seared tuna or swordfish – marinate in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and a selection of fresh Mediterranean herbs, flat-leaf parsley, salt, and black pepper.  Give this a good 3 hours, for the flavours to penetrate. Sear for 3 minutes each side. Bone dry whites, or crisp rose wines are best with this, and really bring out the fresh, vibrant flavours – try this with the delicately pale, and appropriately-named Cashmere Pato Frio Rose 2015 , a bone dry, subtle, strawberry and redcurrant-infused pink from Southern Portugal, with a citrus tang.

    Mas Delmera, Monastrell Reserva Spiced leg of lamb – mix ground coriander, ground cumin, paprika, dried thyme, crushed garlic and a pinch of both cayenne pepper and cinnamon into softened butter – cut deep slashes into a leg of lamb (this also works, with boned shoulder, or with lamb steaks), and rub the spice mix in, pushing it into the incisions. This sweet, Middle Eastern spice rub calls for a bold, yet sweetly spiced red, with softness and richness – it works a treat with the brooding richness of Mas Delmera Monastrell 2009, a glorious, and ridiculously great value, velvety, seductive red from the South East of Spain – dark fruit, rich spice, hints of mocha, - it’s got the lot.

    Yealands Estate PGR Pinot Gewurztraminer RieslingIndonesian satay -  whizz up garlic cloves, shallots, red chilli, paprika, cumin, coriander, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime zest, palm sugar, fresh ginger and crunchy peanut butter in a food processor.  Chop your meat of choice (I normally use chicken or pork) into bite size chunks, and toss in the marinade.  Leave for a couple of hours, put onto water-soaked wooden skewers and toss onto the BBQ coals until cooked through.  This is a punchy, strongly spiced dish, which needs a wine with enough ‘oomph’ to balance out the flavours.  My pick would be Yealands PGR 2015, a heady, exotic, yet refreshingly zesty blend of Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewurztraminer from one of New Zealand’s leading wine producers, and one of my go-to choices for most Asian-inspired marinades.

    Heartland Shiraz Langhorne Creek Limestone CoastSteak – there are a million and one ways to marinade and tenderise steak – from simple oil, balsamic vinegar, herbs and lemon, through many variations of Asian rubs, to spicy chipotle/chilli infused Mexican inspired styles. If you stick to the classic Italian marinade, then delicious Tuscan reds will match well; however, throw in challenging spice and sauces from Asia to Mexico, and you need big, bold, spicy reds – my top picks would be Heartland Shiraz 2013, with its rich, heady cocoa and blackberry character, and rich, sumptuous depth, or push the boat out and try the multi-award winning Unanime 2011 La Mascota, winner of trophies and awards across the world, and the very best of what Argentina has to offer – a blend of Cabernet and Malbec, it’s about as intense, voluptuous, and gorgeously rich as you can get – sink into its mesmeric charms and enjoy the heady richness of this dark fruit, licorice, cinnamon spice and dark chocolate- stashed delight.

    By Angela Mount

  • It's barbecue season - so what are the right wines?

    Barbecue season is well and truly upon us, and we Brits are stalwarts – once that Webber is out in the garden neither rain, nor wind will stop us enjoying our summer barbies - even huddled under umbrellas, there’s something about those smokey, char-grilled aromas, simple, thrown together feasts, and relaxed style of entertaining that we all love… and let’s face it ladies, it’s the easiest way, and often the only way, to get your man to do the cooking.

    The days of simply chucking a sausage and a burger on the barbecue are long gone, although these two all-time favourites will always feature, and are perennial favourites. Today, it’s all about marinades, spices, rubs, salsas, salads, and all manner of chargrilled vegetables on the side.  But the essence of a barbecue is still the same – relaxed, fun, convivial, and sociable.

    What to drink? Well, beer will always be pretty near the top of the list, but wine is up there too, and with a myriad of different styles to choose from, the wine selection in itself, can become a bit of a headache.

    Here are some simple tips:

    - Wine is the supporting act for barbecues not the star of the show – don’t bring out your best bottles, or invest in highly expensive wines for the occasion, they won’t be appreciated.

    - Pick fresh, fruity, wines – zesty, citrusy whites, and bright, fruity reds – go easy on oaky wines, and avoid anything with heavy tannins.

    - Try a Rose – pink wines are fantastic barbecue wines – they’re versatile and very food friendly.

    - Balance the style of the wine with the flavours of the food – e.g. pick wines that will match the different marinades and cope with the strong flavours of the smokey barbecue and spices (in the same way that cool, fruity chutneys balance the heat of the spice in Indian dishes).

    - Keep the whites on ice, and slightly chill red wines, to bring out the fresh, fruity flavours – if you’re running out of space, fill big buckets with ice and water and put the bottles in there.

    - Invest in a few wine cooler sleeves – they keep wine chilled for much longer.

    - Opt for screw-capped bottles.  It makes life much easier when you are trying to barbecue and open bottles.

    Now down to the wines; generally speaking, as good all-rounders, go for mouthwatering, zesty whites with a bit of oomph – Sauvignon Blanc, un-oaked Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, and southern Italian whites.  For reds, stick to two styles – lighter, juicier, cherry fruit-stashed wines such as Montepulciano, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese and Tempranillo; or opt for rich, but soft, velvety sunshine reds, with lots of ripeness, such as Shiraz, Zinfandel and Merlot.

    Of course, it depends on what you’re cooking:


    Heartland Spice Trader, Langhorne Creek Limestone Coast

    Classic steak, burgers and sausages – you won’t go far wrong here with bold, spicy, fruit-stashed reds, such as the spicy Heartland Spice Trader or similar velvety Shiraz-style wines.  Alternatively go for a lighter option, served slightly chilled.  The unusual, and little-known Braucol, Vigne Lourac, Cotes de Tarn, with its bright, cherry and herb-stashed flavours would work well.


    Seafood and white fish -  keep it simple, whether it’s prawns, seabass or other – brush with oil, sprinkle with all styles of fresh herbs that you have to hand, add a couple of crushed garlic cloves and finely chopped red chilli, for a touch of spice.

    Domaine Roquemolière, Picpoul de PinetOr season lightly, chargrill and serve with a punchy salsa verde.  Zesty, crisp, refreshing whites, such as the searingly fresh, fennel-scented Picpoul de Pinet, Domaine de la Roquemoliere or the citrus and peach-stashed Sicilian Planeta La Segreta.

    Tuna and salmon - here are a couple of my favourite recipes, that take no time, yet make all the difference to flavours:

    Chargrilled Tuna
    4 tuna steaks
    Olive Oil
    Lots of Lemon juice
    3 garlic cloves
    Fresh parsley, dill and basil

    Mix all the marinade ingredients and pour over the tuna. Leave for 12 hours, then char-grill for 3 minutes each side. Very simple, very effective, very delicious.

    Barbecued salmon steaks with pistou

    4 salmon steaks
    bunch of basil leaves
    2 oz pine nuts
    2 garlic cloves
    Extra Virgin olive oil

    Whizz the basil, pine nuts and garlic with just enough olive oil to make a paste. Add seasoning. Put the salmon steaks on individual pieces of tinfoil, and top with the pistou paste. Wrap up and grill for 10 mins.

    With these recipes, I invariably opt for Southern French Rose, with its crisp, lively, bone dry strawberry flavours – it’s the epitome of summer even if the weather is shocking.  Stick to pale, peachy pink roses, full of strawberry, pomegranate and raspberry scents and flavours – 2 of my favourites are the Chateau Sainte Marguerite Cotes de Provence, and the beguiling Sicilian delight that is Planeta Rose.

    Château Sainte Marguerite, Grande Réserve, Organic Rosé, Cru Classé


    Thai prawns, or chicken – once again, marinades and barbecues mean simple preparation.  Mix up some crushed garlic, chopped ginger, a couple of sticks of lemongrass, one chopped red chilli, chopped fresh coriander, with the zest and juice of 3 limes, a splash of fish sauce, a hint of rice wine vinegar and some olive oil, and you’ve got the flavours of the Orient all ready to go.  Throw in some coconut milk for an extra layer of flavour.

    The Frost Pocket Sauvignon BlancHere you need bright, tongue-tingling zesty whites, and a Sauvignon Blanc, such as Frost Pocket, is always a good bet, as the intense crispness and tropical fruit character match the zingy flavours of the marinade.  The lime-drenched scents and flavours of Riesling wines also work well, as does one of my current favourites, the Austrian, nectarine and ginger-infused Machherndl Gruner Veltliner – spicy, yet dry and fresh as a daisy.


    Mediterranean cooking is simple – fresh meat, herbs, lemon, olive oil, and a riot of colourful vegetables – match these dishes with southern Italian and Spanish whites, or venture to the New World, for some super-fresh wine flavours.

    Leyda Chardonnay Reserva Leyda ValleyChicken with herbs and spicy mayonnaise -  a simple solution for last minute guests; sprinkle chicken thighs and drumsticks with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, fresh thyme and oil ; serve with  ice-cold, fresh, lively, unoaked , or lightly oaked Chardonnay – the baked apple, peach and cream infused Leyda Chardonnay Resesrva, with its mouthwatering citrus finish would be a perfect match.  If you’re looking for a red, chill down a bottle of the bright, fresh, joyously fruity El Mago Garnacha, full of juicy berry fruit and wild herbs

    Texas/Jamaican/ Caribean

    Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel CaliforniaSpicy chicken – Barbecue sauce, and spicy, ketchup- inspired sauces are great favourites -  with these sweet, vinegar, chilli and sugar-spiked marinades, you need soft, fruity, velvety reds, or bold, fleshy whites.  The Californians know which wines work well with this type of food – Opt for the succulent, apricot and pineapple scented Bogle Viognier, which has enough natural sweetness to cope with these full-on flavours, or it’s red partner, the velvety, blackberry and sweetly spiced Bogle Zinfandel.

    These will also work equally well with ribs and Texas rub steaks, and this simple recipe for chicken.

    Spatchcocked barbecue chicken

    I free-range chicken (or use chicken thighs and drumsticks)
    2 pots natural yoghourt
    50ml hot sauce (sold in most supermarkets)
    1 finely chopped red chilli
    Sea salt flakes
    Zest and juice of 2 lemons
    Freshly chopped parsley and thyme

    Spatchcock the chicken (or get your butcher to do it), then press it down into a large ovenproof dish.  Mix up the marinade ingredients, pour over and rub in well.  Leave to marinade for 6-12 hours before barbecuing.

    J. Lohr 'Wildflower' Valdiguie Pulled Pork – one of the hot trends at the moment, there are lots of wines that will go with this, but opt for a fresh, and more lightweight red, with plenty of juicy fruit, low tannins, and a lively freshness.  Impress guests with the unusual, but very moreish and enchantingly fresh J Lohr, Valdiguie from California, which is jam-packed with zestily fresh berry fruit. Chill it down for best effect.


    Viña Falernia Carmenere Reserva, Elqui ValleyIndian spices, and tandoori or tikka marinades work brilliantly for barbecued meats, but are a bit more of a challenge for wines. This is where aromatic, spicy Rieslings come into their own, and soft, juicy reds, such as Leyda Pinot Noir Reserva, or even the rich, but velvety soft Falernia Carmenere Syrah, full of luscious, super-ripe blackberry and mocha flavours would work well.

    However, why not ring the changes? One of my favourite wine matches for spicy Indian food is a punchy, characterful Rose wine.  Skillogalee Handpicked Cabernet Malbec Rose is spot on here – intense, bold, and richly fruity, but dry.  Chill it down and see how well it works.  Try this with a simple, Indian-spiced marinade for lamb:

    Indian-spiced lamb skewers  

    1 lb lamb steaks, cubed
    4 oz plain yogurt
    1 oz fresh ginger, grated
    2 garlic cloves, crushed
    ½ tsp chilli powder
    1 chopped fresh chilli
    1 tbsp olive oil
    1 tsp garam masala
    1 tsp ground cumin
    1 tbsp freshly chopped thyme
    Salt and pepper

    Mix all the marinade ingredients together, then mix with the lamb.  Marinade for up to 12 hours. Soak bamboo skewers, then thread on the lamb, place on oiled racks on the barbecue, and hey presto, just cook!

    Middle Eastern

    Ken Forrester Reserve Chenin Blanc StellenboschI love the warm, exotic scents of Moroccan, Lebanese and North African spiced dishes – with less heat, or overt punchiness than Indian or Oriental marinades, they have a beguiling, aromatic warmth and softness.  Cinnamon, harissa, cumin, and Ras-al-hanout are all staples, and work beautifully with spicy, yet fresh whites, such as Ken Forrester Reserve Chenin and The Hermit Crab Viognier Marsanne.

    Soft, yet full-bodied reds from Southern Italy and the New World are also ideal partners.  Try Ken Forrester Renegade, full of bold, Rhone-style flavours, or the delicious 12 e mezzo negroamaro from Puglia.  Both would work well with one of my favourite Moroccan spice-infused recipes for meltingly tender lamb.

    Moroccan lamb steaks – I road tested this last weekend, and it was a real hit

    4 lamb steaks
    25g smoked paprika
    1 tbsp crushed coriander seeds
    2 tsp ground cumin
    3 crushed garlic cloves
    1 tsp harissa paste
    2 tsp ras al hanout
    50ml red wine vinegar
    Olive oil to coat

    This is another easy one.  Simply mix all the marinade ingredients, and rub into the lamb steaks.  Leave to marinade overnight, and hey presto, the lamb is ready to hit the coals – keep it pink, so don’t overcook.


    Some of my favourite barbecued food is vegetarian, and there’s a wealth to choose from at this time of year.  Throw away the recipe book, and just experiment with different vegetables.

    Sprinkle glossy aubergines and red peppers with oil and seasoning, and chargrill for maximum flavour, then add lemon juice and herbs. Do the same with tomatoes.

    Eidosela Albariño Rias BaixasCourgettes are in season right now; one of the easiest and tastiest ways to cook them on the barbecue, is to wrap the whole courgette in foil, adding a crushed clove of garlic, some lemon juice, freshly ground pepper and herbs; add a pinch of crushed coriander seeds for an edge of spice.  Pop on the barbecue for 15 minutes, and they will be deliciously soft.

    I like to serve barbecued vegetables with crumbled feta, or goat’s cheese.  This style of food calls for fresh, vibrant, Spanish and Italian whites.  You won’t go far wrong with  Eidesola Albarinho Rias Baixas, or the crisp, lemon balm scented Vermentino Tenuta Belguardo.

    Whichever dishes and wines you choose, keep it simple, keep it fun.  No rules, just a few suggestions. Enjoy!

    By Angela Mount

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