7 tips for serving wine at a barbecue

The sizzle of a barbecue has to be one of the most welcome sounds of the summer. A smoky waft of whatever’s grilling is sure to lure you out into the garden for an afternoon in the sun, and pouring a glass of something good will round things off perfectly. So, what kind of wine pairs best with a traditional BBQ?

Let’s begin with pairing white meat. You’d do well to go for a white wine here, and it’s best to pick something round and supple, rather than a sharp or lively wine. France’s southern regions are good for this, take Provence, Languedoc, and the South-West for example. A Chardonnay from Burgundy’s Mâcon sub-region would also go down a treat.

If you’re serving chops, a red wouldn’t go amiss, though it should be a light one; think Brouilly or Fleurie from Beaujolais, Trousseau or Poulsard from the Jura, or perhaps a Gamay from the Touraine region. If you’d rather serve a white (with pork, for example), choose a wine with a bit of body, especially one that has been matured in oak.

With lamb, it’s a red that will pair best, and definitely something quite tannic. A Cabernet Sauvignon is good for this, a typical Bordeaux grape. Otherwise, a cuvée from the Rhône, such as a Syrah from Crozes-Hermitage or Saint-Joseph, will complement grilled lamb nicely.

Beef-based grills are a popular choice, and you’ll want to stick to the reds for this; something powerful and full-flavoured but not overly oaky. Note that anything too dry or tannic might take away from the juiciness of the meat. A characterful wine from Bordeaux, Cahors, or Languedoc is a good bet.

What about your veggie friends? Fear not, there’s no reason for the herbivores to miss out on a good wine pairing. If you’re serving up some kind of spicy bean burger, a chilled rosé can complement the heat quite nicely. Alternatively, a mushroom-based grill calls for something with a little more bite such as a Pinot Noir; Burgundy and Alsace are a good port of call for this grape.

In any case, we’d say that now isn’t the time to uncork a very mature vintage. You can save those bottles to savour alongside a richer meal. A summer barbecue is generally the time to open something younger with a little more freshness to it.

If you’re enjoying a bit of a heatwave, you’ll want to try and keep your wine cool. Even reds can be cooled down for up to an hour in the fridge before serving. For whites and rosés, a quick 15-minute blast in the freezer is just the ticket, but make sure to set a timer – they’ll spoil if you forget about them…Once the bottles are open, keep them in a bucket of cold water rather than ice; water will envelop the bottle more effectively, and you can always add a couple of ice-cubes if needs be.

Now all that’s left to do is fire up the barbecue and invite the neighbours over!

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