It’s officially summer, at this point. That means it’s finally time to venture out of the house, fire up a barbecue and throw some meat, (or fish, or vegetables, whatever), over some coals. While most people see barbecues as having a vibe that’s more beer-friendly than wine-friendly, sipping vino over the grill is becoming ever more popular. If you feel like switching it up this summer, here’s a short little introduction to the basics of wine and BBQ pairing.
A slightly less common BBQ option, lamb is something a little different, (and, dare we say, even a little more sophisticated), but still a great meat for outdoor grilling. Juicy grilled lamb chops are simple and reliably awesome; they are a favorite in parts of the Mediterranean and thus go perfectly with hummus, creamy tzatziki or harissa, (if you like it spicy). You can also go for some Xinjiang style, cumin-spiced lamb skewers too. They should definitely be paired with a red, but as lamb has a slightly subtler flavor than beef, lighter reds with lower tannins are the way to go.
Pair with… Bordeaux, Rioja, Rosé Champagne
Pork is definitely one of the bosses when it comes to BBQ; you’ve got pork chops, sausages and even pulled pork if you know what you’re doing. All of them have quite distinct flavors, but you some general rules can apply. Sparkling rosé and dry Rieslings are a good look; a good complement to both the juicy, sweet and smoky flavors of a pulled pork sandwich and the slightly spicy, herbal kick of a good sausage.
Pair with… Riesling, Chianti
It won’t come as any surprise that orthodoxy says to pair BBQ’d or grilled fish with a white wine, and this is an instance we’d recommend carrying on tradition. Fish tastes great on a BBQ – we’re particularly partial to grilled sea bass – with little more than a squeeze of lemon, a delicate flavor to be complemented with a dry white rather than overpowered with a red. Of course, light reds aren’t totally off the table if you feel like going against the grain, especially if you’re cooking up something a little richer like salmon.
Pair with… Chardonnay, Chablis, Pinot Noir
Just as with fish, the rules are pretty clear on this one; red, red, red. The most popular choice of beef on a BBQ would be burgers. Toppings, meanwhile, could be a mild cheddar, bacon and BBQ sauce or a blue cheese and arugula. You’ll generally be looking at a robust but light, summery red. The same goes for other sorts of beef too. If your BBQ is an all afternoon type deal, a huge hunk of low and slow cooked brisket works particularly well.
Pair it with… Cabernet Sauvignon
A staple of a nicely rounded barbecue, (and savior of any wayward vegetarians in the area), are decent vegetable skewers. Of course the ideal skewer will vary with preference, which will in turn vary which wine pairing works best. If you’re going for flavour without having to add too many seasonings then onions, bell peppers, zucchinis and eggplants are a good bet. Corn on the cob works great too, of course, and doesn’t need much more than butter. Of course you can always get adventurous. Anyone will enjoy it if you throw a few cheeky chunks of haloumi cheese in there.
Pair it with… Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc
And there you have it. It’s hard to find something that people love more than a barbecue in the summer; but get your wine pairings right, and you might achieve the impossible feat of making it even better.