Tag Archives: wines for a bbq

  • 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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