The Best BBQ – Wine Fundamentals
Choosing the best wines for your BBQ isn’t as hard as you might think. There are some great tricks you can use to make sure you and your friends enjoy great wine with your delicious chargrilled barbecued food.
Tip 1: Keep it simple
There are a lot of flavours to think about in your average BBQ. Burgers? Check. Fish? Check. Sausages? Check. Chicken? Check. Vegetable skewers? Check. Glazes? Check. Marinades? Check. Sauces? Check. Salad? Check.
You’d need a full cellar of options if you go looking for the perfect match to everything. So don’t fret it. Go for a white and a red. Or be maverick and go pink.
Tip 2: Don’t go overboard
On that topic, there’s no need to go large on price – just large on flavour. Fine wines would be a waste, their nuances lost to all the big BBQ char and sweetness. £10 per bottle should be the top end of your budget. Unless you want to. Or its a big bottle.
Tip 3: Beer or Wine?
Nothing wrong with having both on hand, everybody likes different things. Beer is a great palate cleanser, and so is sparkling wine. Keeping some fizz on hand is a good shout for those who don’t fancy beer.
Tip 4: What wine?
Full bodied, juicy reds. Grenache, Malbec, Zinfandel/Primitivo, Tempranillo (so, Rioja then – or Ribera Del Duero) and Barberas for the red.
For white wine, bit more variable. For chicken and white meat go for New World Chardonnay or Viognier. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is great if you’ve got herby salads and feta. For seafood, lean towards something dazzling: Albarino, Picpoul de Pinet, or Provence Rosé.
To make things even easier, we’ve put together a list of some of our best picks for your summer BBQ. And the best part? All of these are sub-£10 (or equivalent) this summer!
Las Maletas Malbec 2014, Mendoza, Argentina – Get it here
Taste: Gentle toasted wood, smoke, vanilla and clove, layered over soft plum and damson. It’s rich and mouth-filling but never heavy.
Enjoy It With: The stereotypical answer to Malbec is steak. This is a great BBQ wine and a real crowd-pleaser. Serve with friends and soak up the adulation.
Know Thy Wine: Las Maletas means “the suitcases”. It is part of a collection of wines that take in the best Argentina has to offer. Pack your suitcase, put on your hat and be ready to indulge your wanderlust.
Papa Luna 2012, Calatayud, Spain – Get it here
Taste: Thick and juicy black cherries with raspberry compote. Rounded and full with a spicy finish and nice grippy tannins.
Enjoy It With: Chargrilled meats – this is Grenache at its most versatile. Brilliant with burgers, superb with steak, lovely with lamb.
Know Thy Wine: Papa Luna is the work of ‘El Escoces Volante’ Norrel Robertson MW. The ‘Flying Scotsman’ hails from Fife and makes fantastic wine in Spain. You’ll find the Crescent Moon of Papa Luna – Pope Benedict XIII – atop the University of St Andrews coat of arms.
Old Vine Zinfandel, Ravenswood, Lodi, California – Get it here
Taste: Ripe black cherry, currants and brambles with vanilla abound. A rounded mouthful with plenty of body, and a lick of clove to finish.
Enjoy It With: There’s nothing subtle about this wine, so forget delicate flavours. But then, it’s a BBQ. Which is the point. Drink and enjoy!
Know Thy Wine: Ravenswood’s motto is ‘No Wimpy Wines’ and this wine exemplifies their philosophy. Lodi County is home to some of the oldest vines in California – their gnarled branches produce some gnarly wines!
Rioja Reserva 2009, Lagunilla, Rioja, Spain – Get it here
Taste: Silky smooth ripe strawberry and raspberry, with lashings of coconut, toast and vanilla. Soft tannins and refreshing acidity.
Enjoy It With: Juicy, thick, fatty lamb burgers. Or super healthy vegetable skewers if you must. Surprisingly good with meaty fish.
Know Thy Wine: Don Felipe Lagunilla (for it is he) founded his bodega in 1885. He was the first to use American rootstocks to graft vines following phylloxera. As a reward for his pioneering work in Rioja, he gained the title Commendador.
Gran Reserva Chardonnay, Vina Luis Felipe Edwards, Casablanca, Chile – Get it here
Taste: Ripe peach, mango and pineapple atop a layer of dessert apple drizzled with fresh lemon. On toast. With butter. Unsalted.
Enjoy It With: Sounds big, but is actually pretty refreshing. Got white meat? Get this wine. Also great with sweeter sauces and good with hot spice.
Know Thy Wine: Luis Felipe Edwards Sr. bought the estate in 1976. They are now the largest 100% family owned winery in Chile. Apparently, the Gran Reserva range is what the family keep for special occasions. Are BBQs are special enough? We think so.
Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Brancott Estate, Marlborough, New Zealand – Get it here
Taste: A huge unsubtle gooseberry bush slapping you in the face with its deliciousness. Passionfruit, lemon, lime and fresh apple. In the garden with grass stains on otherwise clean white shoes.
Enjoy It With: Prawns with chilli, salad with tomatoes. Or quaff while waiting for either.
Know Thy Wine: Brancott planted the first Sauvignon Blanc in Marlborough back in 1973. On another note, the Brancott wine boxes are a pain to display bottles on top of. Help a store manager, buy all their stock.
Albarino As Caixas 2013, Martin Codax, Rias Baixas, Spain – Get it here
Taste: Millions of peaches, peaches and cream. With fresh apricot, lemons, and pears diced on top.
Enjoy It With: Squid. Which you probably won’t have on the barbie. Shrimps, though. And chicken. And pork. And grilled veggies.
Know Thy Wine: Caixas are crates into which grapes go. Grapes which some Majestic staff might well have helped pick. A few lucky store members head out to help with the harvest every year.
Aix En Provence Rosé Magnum 2014, Aix En Provence, France – Get it here
Taste: Fresh strawberries with rose petal and red apple. Mouth-filling, refreshing and pink.
Enjoy It With: More flexible than a ballerina, Rosé wine is great with many foods. Have it with everything.
Know Thy Wine: It comes in a magnum for double the fun. Technically this is not sub-£10, but it’s two bottles in one so we think it counts.