Top pairings | What's the best type of wine for a barbecue?

Top pairings

What's the best type of wine for a barbecue?

If you’re planning a July 4th barbecue this weekend - or barbecuing any other weekend this summer - you may well be wondering which wine to choose.

After all the average barbie with its multiple marinades, sauces and salsas is an assault course for any wine. Which is why a lot of people give up and drink beer or pitcher cocktails.

What wine works with barbecue?

* A lot of barbecue marinades are sweet which tends to make lighter wines taste thin and sharp. But they may also be spicy so you don’t want a wine that’s too tannic or oaky. Sharply dressed salads will also accentuate oaky flavours

* Bear in mind that although people love full-bodied reds like malbec and shiraz they may warm up to an uncomfortable extent if it's a hot day (those beers and pitcher drinks are cold for a reason!) So either go for a lighter red or try and keep them somewhere cool.

* Not all barbecues are meaty. Think crisp white wines and rosé or light reds like pinot noir, Beaujolais or (my recent wine of the week Pais) if your centrepiece is fish or veggies.

* And even if you are having a bit of a meatfest you might well be serving some dips on arrival so again think in terms of having a chilled white or rosé to hand. Magnums of rosé go down mega-well!

* Price is obviously a factor if you're catering for a crowd. Whites that represent good value are sauvignon blanc, Côtes de Gascogne and Picpoul de Pinet. Good red wine choices are, malbec, pinotage and shiraz (see my choices in this week's Guardian)

* Pick up on the theme of the barbecue. If it's all American serve Californian wine, if it's a spicy Thai or Indian food think more in terms of aromatic whites such as riesling

* Rosé is also a surprisingly good option as you get stuck into the barbecue especially the darker, more intensely fruity rosés you find from countries such as Spain and Argentina. Even sparkling rosé (Cava rosado is a particularly good bargain) and there's always pink champagne if you're feeling more extravagant!

*Almost more critical than the colour of the wine, however, is how you serve it. Any wine - even red wine - benefits from being chilled or served cool in hot weather which is why it’s not worth opening a wine of any great age or complexity

Midweek barbecues

Of course now barbecuing is so easy many people grill several times a week and here slightly different guidelines apply.

If the meal is not what most people would regard as a barbecue but merely a conventional meal with the main course cooked over the grill you can serve a similar type of wine to the one you would normally serve though with a greater level of intensity to allow for the heightened flavours.

With a simply grilled fish served with herb butter, for example, you might drink a crisp dry white like a Sancerre. If it was seasoned with a spicy rub and cooked over coals you might prefer a zesty New Zealand, Chilean or South African Sauvignon Blanc.

Image © zi3000 @fotolia.com

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