Best BBQ wines
It’s warming up again; summer is making a comeback and so it’s time to stoke up the barbecue and invite friends round for a long-awaited catch-up. Rather than the relaxed affairs that they should be, barbecues can sometimes be hard work for the hosts especially if you are trying to prepare something a little out of the ordinary and for a large number of guests. So to give you one less thing to worry about and to save you time I’ve come up with some tips on the best wines to serve with BBQ food.
Plus, at the special request of a customer, I’m republishing my easy, time-saving but delicious spicy lamb recipe that you can leave on the heat without too much intervention to give you time to chat with your guests – and to enjoy a nice glass of wine.
Finding BBQ wines
Some foods can be difficult to match with wine and smoky or char-grilled flavours mean that barbecued dishes fit that category. In addition we have a tendency to marinate foods for the BBQ in all sorts of sauces and spices, never mind the dressings and dips on the side that we tend to eat with our barbecued meat, fish and vegetables, so there are many flavours on the plate fighting for the attention of your tastebuds. I’m not talking about finding the perfect wine match for BBQs as that would be impossible but I’m making a number of suggestions of wines that won’t be hidden behind the smoke, (hopefully!) gentle charring and the myriad of food flavours.
So in general…
barbecued food requires wines with intensity so that the wine is not overwhelmed
Red Wines for the BBQ
Good-all-rounder red wines are Malbec and Shiraz which have the body, complexity, sweet fruit and spice to cope with highly flavoured food. Or for something similar but less known, why not try a Carmenère from Chile? Make sure this style of wine is not too tannic though as it might clash with fatty meats and sauces.
But if you prefer a lighter red wine in the summer, the fruity freshness of cru Beaujolais would help counter the searing and cut through any fat in the meats. Plus lighter reds like Beaujolais would be better than heavier, more tannic reds, with fish and plant-based dishes. You could also serve the Beaujolais slightly chilled – and if it is a hot day, keep all wines, red, white and rosé, out of the sunshine and heat to keep them fresh.
White Wines for the BBQ
Many people prefer to drink chilled white wine at a barbecue party especially if the weather is warm and are often tempted by the crispest, driest white wines. Hot spicy rubs can however clash with the razor-sharp acidity. To match the intensity of flavours others might choose an oaky Chardonnay but the buttery richness is not an ideal style for a sunny day and the oaky flavours can intensify if the wine is consumed with vinegary dressings or marinades.
The best white wines to drink at a barbecue are somewhere in the middle of these two styles, an aromatic white wine that combines fresh crispness with intense fruity flavours like a Picpoul or a fruity Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Keep the wine chilled but not too cold to avoid masking its lovely fruity flavours.
Rosé Wines for the BBQ
Rather than white wine, consider a rosé to drink at your bbq. Rather than the lighter (in colour and style) Provence rosés, find a rosé that has a bit more body and intensity like this rosé from Burgundy produced from the Gamay grape. This works especially well with barbecued vegetable dishes as the extra weight of the wine can handle the smoky food flavours whilst the crispness will allow the vegetable flavours to come through. Alternatively consider serving a sparkling rosé wine or champagne.
An easy but delicious BBQ lamb recipe
To help you chill out at your barbecue this summer I am sharing with you one of my favourite recipes - it's very easy, I promise.
Barbecued Lamb with Merguez Spices
I have adapted a fabulous River Cottage recipe for use on the barbecue - it makes a great change from standard barbecue fare. All credit to River Cottage for the original recipe:
I suggest one medium shoulder or leg of lamb (c. 2kg in weight) scored and with excess fat removed. You will need sufficient charcoal on the barbecue to keep the meat cooking for two to three hours.
The spice paste consists:
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
½ cinnamon stick, broken up
1 tsp black peppercorns
A pinch of cayenne pepper or chilli powder
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Leaves from 2 large rosemary sprigs, finely chopped
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp olive oil
Crush the cumin, coriander, fennel seeds, cinnamon and peppercorns (after dry-roasting if you have the time) and mix with the rest of the spice paste ingredients. Rub the spice paste all over the lamb shoulder. Grill the lamb on the hot barbecue for three minutes each side, taking care not to burn it.
Wrap the lamb in foil pouring a glass of water into the foil and cook for two hours by which time the meat should be falling off the bone. You may need to add another glass of water halfway through. Skim the excess fat off the juices and pour over the meat before serving. And that is it - easy, leaving you more time to spend with your guests.
My wine recommendations for this recipe would be Marcel Lapierre Morgon Cru Beaujolais - the 2019 vintage in particular is really smooth and full of sweet red fruit flavours that cut through any fat in the lamb - or Mother’s Milk Shiraz from First Drop Wines which is robust enough to cope with the spices but also silky smooth.
So whether you’re stoking up the charcoals or switching on the gas-fired bbq, cooking spicy lamb, mackerel or burgers and chicken wings, make sure you have the right wines lined up to enjoy.
© Wines With Attitude Limited, www.wineswithattitude.co.uk
Lindsay Cornelissen DipWSET is passionate about good quality wine and set up Wines With Attitude to share that passion with other wine lovers.