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.
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.
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.