The sun is shining, your meat is marinating and charcoal is smoldering, but wait, what do you drink with your summer food favourites?
The barbecue season is one of the most delicious and fun times of the year, especially for wine lovers. I especially love to drink a good red wine, but on a sunny day I prefer a nice light white wine. So how do I pick the perfect bottle with those delicious grilled foods? Which wine can compete with a Mediterranean flavoured burger or ribs or steak or even seafood? There is so many different things that can be grilled on a barbecue.
This question kept going through my mind. What wine should I decide to serve my guests on this warm summer evening? Well, this dilemma definitely required some thought. But to keep things simple we should start from the beginning. What are we putting on the barbecue in the first place?
Hamburgers are a basic and a summer grilling staple, so it’s only fitting that they pair with our number one summer barbecue wine: cru Beaujolais. Light, fresh, and fun, cru Beaujolais is extremely food-friendly, with peppy red cherry and strawberry flavor and a touch of earth. A friendly cru like Fleurie is a go-to for basic burgers, while a more structured cru like Morgon is ideal for richer burgers topped with sauce or cheese. I’m already feeling thirsty when writing about it!
If you are more a fan of baby back ribs, embrace the flavors that make ribs so good. It’s all about a wine that compliments them all. Full of smoke, meat, and black peppery goodness, Syrah from the northern Rhone is the perfect partner, as if someone took the smoked ribs themselves and put them into the wine. More value-oriented appellations like Saint-Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage offer all that Syrah character in a friendly, ready-to-drink package.
For our real meat lovers who like a good steak, Napa Cab is a no brainer, but to take the pairing to a new level, look up to the mountain. Vineyards situated within the mountain ranges that form the Napa Valley, such as Spring Mountain District or Chiles Valley, have the added benefit of elevation, creating a more restrained, elegant style of wine. The earthy, savory qualities that stand out in these less overwhelmingly fruity wines complement a well-marbled, dry-aged steak. A good Carbernet Sauvignon from Napa Vally, California is a good bet if you ask me!
If you’re not such a meat eater, but like grilled seafood then you better embrace the essence of Sicilian white wine. Last year I visited Sicily and loved drinking a good white wine with my spaghetti and seafood. Sicilian grapes, particularly those grown on the slopes of Mount Etna, have a distinct volcanic minerality, lemon acidity, and a touch of salinity, creating a beach-reminiscent vibe. The wines also have enough weight to stand up to a bit of char and a drizzle of butter.