Updated: Jun 28, 2021
In true British fashion, we're experiencing an upsettingly sporadic summer so far. The glorious weather is occasionally showing its face, and very soon the aromas of charring burgers and Linda McCartney saussies will once again fill the weekend air, so I thought I'd take a minute and write a little piece on everyone's favourite wine pairing topic: what corks to pop when the charcoal gets hot. But if you fancy bypassing the blog, you can simply order the four delicious wines in our BBQ pack, or search yourself with our handy BBQ filter and get easy delivery direct to your door!
I always feel the need to add a primer before talking about wine pairings. Going back to working the floor, customers would ask "what wine do you recommend with that?" and to be honest, the first question I would ask back is "what kinds of wine do you like to drink?". It's very true that some pairings absolutely just work - Jura whites and Comte cheese, Chianti and lamb, Lager and a kebab *cough* - but people's sensitivities to certain aspects of food and wine vary drastically, and that 'perfect pairing' you can't wait to show your mate might just fall flat when it becomes apparent that their palate is very different to yours. There's many many rules for wine pairings, but just as many exceptions, so for us, rule #1 is drink what you enjoy.
But if you want our advice, our favourite BBQ wines are juicy, red and often a little chillable. Something that is going to work with the fat and charring on the meat (or fake meat) and something that's going to quench your thirst when manning the coals. I find most BBQ reds fall into two camps - the easy drinking "glou glou" (think of the sound when enthusiastically pouring another glass) wines that are made for the hot weather and tend to be able to flirt their way across the entire spread, or the slightly more conventional way of thinking about pairings which would be reds with more tannin and structure that with traditionally 'pair' with flame grilled red meats. Starting with the more laid back of the two, you're going to want to look for reds with low tannin (a compound in the grape skin that causes the drying, mouth coating effect you get from a red or orange wine), lower alcohol, and a decent amount of acid to get the most drinkability you can! It's true wines in any area can often be made in any style, but generally I'd look towards slightly cooler, temperate climates for these reds; areas where the sun doesn't create a lot of sugar and thus a lot of alcohol. Within France, the wines of Beaujolais are archetypal for light gastronomic tipples. Going from lighter or more structured, I'd recommend the ever popular Raisins Gaulois from Domaine Lapierre, the Beaujolais-Villages by Andre Colonge, and if you're feeling fancy, the wine I drank on my birthday last March - Jean Foillard's Morgon Cote-du-Py. Thin skinned grapes like Poulsard or Trousseau from the Jura work nicely by combining light body with deep complexity and earthiness, and along the same lines Pinot Noir works well too.
Italy does a good line in summer smashers too, with my favourite actually being this DRY fizzy red Lambrusco, and a 10.5% Nero d'Avola from Sicily. Spain, while usually big on the rich sun-baked reds, also has a new wave experimental side that focuses on high acid fresh wines, like the Joven Rioja from Artuke and Como Lo Haria Mi Abuelo from Hacienda Grimon. Looking toward Austria and Eastern Europe things generally get a bit cooler and the light reds flow. Jutta Ambrositch makes a white / red co-ferment within the city limits of Austria that just screams "day drinking", while Claus Preisinger makes some natty yet classic feeling stuff on the shore of Lake Neusiedl.
On the more typical side of things, the rich steak friendly reds are usually your friend. More structured wines like our Exhibition red from the Rhone, or the Biodynamic Bordeaux from Chateau Pey-Bonhomme Les Tours for even more power. The Sangiovese grape in most iterations is usually a good idea like a Rosso or Brunello di Montalcino from Donatella Colimbini, or the ever delicious Chianti Classico. Rioja in its classic style in a younger fruitier Crianza would also be happily at home in the garden.
If you're not a fan of the reds, have a look at our Pink Wines or Amber Wines to offer some structure for the food but in a more refreshing way. White wise, i'd generally recommend the richer styles - perhaps a fruit forward white Burgundy or a barrel fermented Vernaccia.
Hopefully that's covered the basics, but just remember - if in doubt, drink what you like!
If you've something a little different planned for your BBQ and are in need of some wine advice then please always feel free to pop us a message to email@example.com.