I don’t know about you, but since the weather has turned warmer I’ve been grilling pretty much every day. It’s reached the point where I’ve almost forgotten how my oven works. I’m even picking groceries based entirely on how well they grill.
In the past I’ve always paired grilled meats with beer. However, since moving to the UK the shortage in quality craft beers has forced me to reassess my presence. So lately I’ve been experimenting with pairing various wines with barbecued food.
While I initially switched to wine with a grudging “if I must,” I’m now a strong advocate for pairing wines with grilled foods. While some wines can be easily overpowered by the charred flavour of barbecue, there are a few that really make the smokey meats and vegetables pop. Here are a few of my favourites.
Ah Zinfandel, the wine every aficionado loves to hate. Joking aside, Zinfandel gets a bad rap. True it’s cheap and often the wine of choice for those who don’t know a lot about wine. However, despite it’s bad cred, Zinfandel is actually a pretty perfect companion to a summer BBQ. A well balanced Zinfandel will really bring out the flavours of a meaty steak or some saucy ribs.
This one is personal favourite. There’s something about the intense peppery dryness that really goes well with grilled meats. Shiraz is full-bodied, a quality that really pairs well with the rendered fat found in well grilled beef, lamb, and pork. It’s also very tasty with grilled vegetables.
Pairing wine with grilled fish and chicken can be a bit of challenge. Chicken and fish tend to go well with white wines, however the smokey flavours that come with grilling tend to throw that pairing out of line. Enter dry rose. As it’s often served chilled Dry Rose has the right temperature and acidity to match chicken and fish with the added fruity flavour that goes well with grilled foods.
BBQ isn’t only about big and bold flavours, sometimes you need a little subtlety. If you’re partial to more delicate grilled foods like vegetables, Pinot Noir is an excellent pairing companion. Pinot Noir is less bold than other red wines so it will work well with grilled vegetables.
Considering it’s popularity in Argentina it’s hardly surprising that Malbec goes well with juicy grilled steaks. Bold, fruity, and full of tannins, Malbec will really bring out the intense meaty flavour of grilled ribeye or sirloin.