It is always said that the British love a barbecue and will seize upon even the slightest increase of temperature and glimpse of sunshine to throw on their shorts and light the coals.
Eating and socializing outside with friends and family is always a winner and it is easier than ever to pick up a inexpensive grill and start cooking. With the British weather notoriously unpredictable (especially in our beloved Manchester!), no wonder we're keen to do it when we can.
Our confidence has grown too and we're now cooking a wider variety of foods on the grill, which opens up more opportunities for wine pairing - but also potential challenges. Those extra relishes, sauces, marinades and salad dressings can create a complex combination of flavours for wine to handle. But don't fear - we've got some great tips on what to go for to make your barbecue top tier.
Our top tips for pairing:
- Bold, ripe sweet-fruited reds work best with red meat. Less tannic, juicier reds with be great with burgers - Zinfandel can be a winner here. Fuller bodied options will enhance the peppery, savoury flavours in the barbecued beef or steak and will be where your Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon shine.
- It's sometimes better to match the sauce or the marinade if it is particularly spicy or sweet, as these are flavours that can clash with dry wine. You could a try an off-dry Riesling or Gewurztraminer instead.
- For chicken dishes you could choose a lightly oaked chardonnay, viognier or perhaps enjoy them with a glass of Cava.
- If you're serving fish or grilled veggies, think crisp white wines like Sauvignon Blanc or Picpoul de Pinet and dry rosé or light reds like Pinot noir and Mencia.
- It's useful to remember that if it's a hot day, you should keep your red wine cool. Warm red wine can be overly jammy and alcoholic, so keep it out of the sun and even chill it down a bit.
However, the main thing about barbecues is to enjoy them, so don't worry if you'd prefer to ignore the above and just choose your favourite.
If you're catering to a bigger group and looking for some great value wine that will be versatile with a number of different dishes you could go for our Favourite Easy Drinkers case. It contains some juicy reds and refreshing whites that can handle a bit of spice and work well with burgers and fish dishes.
For when you are going the extra mile and cooking up a serious feast, this is the selection for you:
Siegel, Handpicked Reserva Merlot, 14% Chile
Classic Chilean Merlot full of blackcurrants, blueberries and soft black cherries with smooth tannins and well balanced acidity. There's a bit of leather on the nose and a slight roast coffee note to the palate, but this is really all about the fruit.
One for smoked brisket or ribs.
Sottano, Malbec, 13.5% Argentina
This is a great Malbec with plenty of easy going ripe fruit and just enough depth and richness to make it interesting but not heavy. It has aromas of ripe black and red fruits such as blackberries, plums and cherries mingling with a delicate chocolate and vanilla note from 8 months ageing in oak. On the palate it is velvety and elegant as well with more of the same fruit leading to a moreish finish with gentle tannins.
One for venison burgers or sausages.
Jeanneret Rank & File Shiraz, 16% Australia
Jeanneret make bold, characterful wines in Australia's Clare Valley and this is a great introduction to their style. Since their wines arrived with us I've been dreaming of the day when I can pair them with BBQ food. Bramble, blackcurrant, spice and dark chocolate dominate the nose and the palate is stuffed full of dark, delicious fruit given detail by more spice and ripe, textured tannins. A really serious wine but also immediately engaging.
Cramele Recas, Solevari Reserve Feteasca Regala, 12.5% Romania
A seriously modern wine using the indigenous Feteasca Regala grape. This is full of charm with slight floral notes and gentle aromas of peaches, pears and pineapple fruit. It's instantly refreshing on palate thanks to the mouth watering acidity and it glides across the palate with elegance revealing a little minerality on a lengthy dry finish with a little grip that is characteristic of this grape.
You could try this with Thai red curry tiger prawns, or with barbequed swordfish.
Matawhero, Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, 12.5% New Zealand
We're very much in UK asparagus season and a few spears on the grill makes for an easy side dish. This excellent Sauvignon from Gisborne on the North Island of New Zealand would be a great match but it also would shine with grilled fish seasoned with a slightly spicy rub. This is a fab wine with honeysuckle aromas mingling with aromatic notes of tropical fruit and hints of herbaceousness. On the palate, it has passionfruit and summer melon fruit with a touch of dried herbs. Finishes rich and full. Delicious
Adobe, Gewurztraminer, 13% Chile
As mentioned before off-dry Geurztraminer can a winner with sweeter marinades and this superb dry example from Chile a freshener between courses. Anything with a zesty dressing or a lime-drenched marinade will taste great with this. The nose offers floral aromas of jasmine, lychee, and honey notes. The floral notes reappear on the palate, along with apricot, and mandarin orange. Medium bodied with good concentration and a refreshing ripe fruit finish.
If you like the sound of these wines, we've put together a 6 bottle case with a little saving which you can can find here.