As Canadians, I think we all feel the same way when it comes to our fleeting summers – take advantage of the nice weather while we can! So in my family, that means outdoor cooking whenever possible. At Groovy Headquarters, we love our barbeque for grilling, smoking, slow-cooking, and we cook anything we can on it, from fresh produce to seafood to meat. The question is though, what are the best wines for barbeque? I know the answer!
There are a few important things to consider.
First, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – seasonings, sauces, and cooking method are more important than the protein itself. Because cooking on the bbq adds its own smoky flavour to food, I find that most seasonings and sauces used are bolder and spicier to stand up to the cooking method so that’s really important to consider when choosing your wines. Delicate, light-bodied wines are generally not what you’re looking for. But at the same time, bbq usually also means that it’s hot outside, so you want something refreshing to the palate as well. In most cases, the answer is juicy, fruity wines that are medium to full in body, whether they’re white, red, or rosé.
In the white category – and for these I’m thinking grilled or smoked seafood and fish – some of my go-to choices are Viognier, Grüner Veltliner from Austria, Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blends, and Spanish Albariño. When it comes to reds, I adore Grenache (and Grenache-based blends), Spanish reds, California Zinfandel, and fruit-forward New World style Pinot Noir. Notice a trend? These are all wines that are medium to full in body, are fruit-forward, have some soft but well-balanced acidity, and for the reds, have medium to low tannins, meaning that they are smooth in the mouth. All these characteristics are important for pairing foods with lots of spice, and with sauces that are sweet, tangy, and/or spicy. These fruity, juicy wines are also a great contrast to the smoky, charred flavour of bbq food.
Of course, I’d be amiss if I neglected to sing the virtues of rosé when it comes to bbq. If you read our newsletter on a regular basis or have attended our tastings, you already know that we try to convert all you non-rosé-drinkers any chance we get, and summer is the perfect time to try once again. If you think that all rosés are made in the same style as White Zinfandel, think again! Most pink wines on the market are dry, crisp, refreshing, and filled with berry fruit flavour – the absolute perfect wine pairing for grilled or smoked food. Like red wine in white wine’s clothing, rosé offers the aromas and flavours of a red wine, in a lighter, more refreshing format that is served chilled to make it even more friendly for al fresco dining. Trust me, if you haven’t tried a rosé yet with your summertime cooking, please do, your taste buds will thank you!
One more piece of advice for you – tasting is better than reading! Join us on July 14th at the Urban Element for a tasting of 8 different bbq-friendly wines, along with some appropriate fare to match. Wine has gone casual for the summer season at the Urban Element, and that means that this tasting will be hosted in a relaxed, cocktail-style format, with food stations set up for grazing, and an Urban Element chef out at the bbq with tips for grilling. Special summertime pricing is also in effect … we hope to see you there!
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