What to uncork when you light the barbecue

We’ve had a few glimpses of barbecue weather already this year, and if that wonderful smell of charcoal and grilled meat wafting from gardens hasn’t tempted you to dust off your own barbecue yet, it’s probably just a matter of time.

There’s nothing wrong with just cracking open a beer with a barbecue but it’s also a great opportunity to experiment with some interesting wine and food combinations – that lovely smoky flavour and texture that you get off barbecued food lends itself to wines that you might not usually consider. Below are some combinations that we’ve been tentatively exploring when the sun’s been out, and that we’ll definitely be experimenting with once the warmer weather is here.

Halloumi

Grilling at summer weekend

This hard Cypriot cheese has become a barbecue favourite in recent years. It’s saltiness and the smoky flavour that develops when it blackens make it a great classic match for Alsace Riesling – the racy acidity balances the salt and neither the wine nor cheese is overpowered. If you want to try something different, try a youthful New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. The sultry smoky whiff from the wine makes it a really interesting accompaniment.

Sausages, burgers and steak

The Australians know a thing or two about barbecuing and their robust Shiraz-based wines provide a match made in heaven for barbecued red meats. However, if you want to try a different approach, how about a Primitivo from Italy? Primitivo is a similar grape to Zinfandel and has a slightly spicy, earthy edge to it that just loves a barbecue.

Chicken

You might want to reach for a full-bodied Chardonnay with just a little oak – either a good Burgundy or something from California perhaps. If you are marinating your meat in a spice rub, it is worth taking this into account when you match your wine – a spicy Gewurztraminer from Alsace or aromatic Southern French white would also be a great match.

Seasonal grilled vegetables

we’re coming to the end of the British asparagus season now but in any case most of the vegetables of spring are green in colour. Vegetables like asparagus, artichokes and fennel have strong flavours and it pays to be adventurous with the wines you choose. Think about Gruner Veltliner, Albariño or Semillon – served lovely and cold all of these will go down a treat.

Don’t forget to keep some rosé in the fridge too – it’s not just a marketing gimmick that rosé is great with a barbecue, it is absolutely true! Consider a big Australian rosé with spicy pork or sipping on a delicate Provençale as an aperitif while you are savouring the aromas and waiting for your food to cook.

What’s the (Wine) World Coming To?

How Not to Drink Wine Like an Amateur

So often in casual company you’ll see someone pour themselves a glass of wine, swirl it around, sniff it and then take a drink. People who truly appreciate wine and know how to drink it will notice any number of discrepancies in the aforementioned ritual, for example: 
• The wine dripped because the pourer didn’t perform the last, second twist of the bottle while pouring.
• The drinker gulped down the wine without sipping and swirling it in their mouth. 
• The drinker did swirl and sip the wine but it was obvious they didn’t know why they’re swirling it or what they’re sniffing for.
Here are a few tips on how to drink wine like a connoisseur

Drinking Wine with Fruits and Vegetables

Grape wineWhat? Wine is meant to be ingested with fine foods other than steak? Who in their right mind would drink wine with fruits and vegetables? The answer: People who know which fruits and vegetables work well with which wine, that’s who.

Some foods can diminish the taste of the wine. Knowing which items to mix and match with wine, and why they go well together, can enhance the dining experience. When eating fruit, you want to make sure that the wine is sweeter than the fruit that you’re eating. Also mind acidity. This applies to both fruits and vegetables. The wine should have more acidity than both of those. Bitter tasting vegetables often go better with white wine than with red.

The Art of the Swirl

Don’t swirl the wine just to look fancy. Do it because you want to release the scent for that all-important aroma that enhances the experience. A step that is often overlooked by amateurs is to follow the swirl by holding the glass up and admiring the colour of the wine. Most people overlook the subtle differences in colour tone produced by different kinds of wine.

 

Smelling and Tasting

This one might take some practice and the help of a professional to master. A gentle sniff, followed a few moments later by a sip and a taste, allows you to decipher exactly what the wine is made of and how. Being able to accurately identify the type of grapes or wooden barrel the wine was aged in will certainly impress those around you.