Barbecue season is open! Which wines are best?

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The advent of summer brings so many pleasures, most of which are associated with staying outside to enjoy the warm weather and longer sunshine hours. And as everybody knows, it’s the time of well-beloved outdoor barbecues.

If you’re wondering how best to indulge your love for wine while cooking amid the great outdoors this summer, we’ve got you covered!

For Burgers, Try Italian Negroamaro

Hailing from Puglia, Negroamaro has been thriving in southern Italy for about 1,500 years, so it has a pretty good track record behind it, even by fine-wine standards. There’s sweet, ripe, dark berry fruitiness that still tastes good chilled, moderate tannins for a smooth mouthfeel, generous spice aromas, and a savoury quality that will complement the texture and flavours of the beef.

If you can’t find Negroamaro, a good backup plan is to go with an Italian Barbera, which will be a bit lighter and fruitier, but will still deliver some spice notes and savoury flavours.

For Ribs, Try California Zinfandel

Zinfandel feels like the all-American grape, but it’s actually Croatian in origin, and also does well in Southern Italy, where it’s known as Primitivo. Zinfandel’s ample sweet fruitiness holds up even when the wine warms up. It’s a particularly excellent match for barbecue ribs, as its sultry smoothness works magic with the sticky sweetness of most rib recipes. Zinfandel’s pepperiness and sweet spice aromas are also great with dry-rubbed barbecue rib preparations.

A good backup plan here is Malbec from Argentina. These reds are full of fruit flavours that are dark, ripe, and bold enough to match up to the cooking treatment of most barbecue ribs.

For Smoked Meats and Sausages, Try Côtes du Rhône Reds

Côtes du Rhône, in France, is famous for its kitchen-sink-style red blends. But a few things underpin almost all Côtes du Rhône reds that make them a great choice for smoked meats and sausages. They’re usually based on Grenache or Syrah, both of which make wines that are robust, fruity, smoky, and savoury. They also are complex enough to make you want to drink more, but not so complex that they distract you from your primal urges to engulf that tasty smoked meat

For a backup, Spanish Tempranillo is a good choice, as it offers cherry fruits with enough wood and smoke aromas to give smoked meats a run for their money.

For Salads, Try New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

Salads can actually be fairly complex menu items, both in terms of the various flavours involved and the textures of the ingredients. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is a white wine that will deliver in spades here. They often have complex aromas of citrus and tropical fruits, along with fresh vegetables and herbs. 

As a backup, look for Portuguese Alvarinho. It’s usually a good bargain, offering intense lemony refreshment with a little kiss of tropical fruit sweetness.

For Veggie Burgers, Try Provence Rosé

France’s Provence is the world’s standard-bearer when it comes to dry rosé wines, and dry rosé is really where you want to be when it comes to the complex texture of veggie burgers (many of which end up being surprisingly spicy). The vibrancy of a good Provence Rosé will hold its own with just about any grilled veggie burger recipe, and has the added bonus of being fun to drink on its own.

Your backup plan? Rioja rosé from Spain. These Tempranillo-based rosés are inexpensive, fruity, and vivacious, and are versatile enough that they can pair with almost any food.

Now that you are armed with information go forth and barbecue – and don’t forget the wine!

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