Continuing our summer theme from last month, let’s talk about backyard barbecues. It’s not August in Edmonton if you aren’t either having a BBQ or being invited to one! Summer grilling is a pastime here and we love it – so what kind of wines should you take to a BBQ with friends or serve at your own?
Well, that depends.
If you really want to leave a big impression with people and make a meal memorable, cleverly pairing wines with food will bring out the best in both. It’s not difficult! In addition to considering the meat or fish you’re grilling, it’s also wise to account for the kind of sauces and marinades you will be using too.
Here’s a simple guide for you to use that is sure to raise the bar on your next outdoor gathering:
- Bold Red Wines for Grilled Red Meats – Think Pepper & Tobacco
The reason is because the tannins in the wines will balance out the higher fat content of the meats and that “umami” created when grilled over a flame. Choose a Chianti (Sangiovese), a Shiraz (Syrah), Tempranillo (Rioja) or a nice Bordeaux style (Blend). These wines will stand up to the protein in the meat whether it’s a steak or a burger.
- For Pork, Think Sweet vs. Savoury
Red wines with a high “fruity” factor are wonderful paired with pork ribs or chops. Often the meat is seasoned with sweet, spicy, smoky and tangy flavours and sauces, so you need a wine that’s going to balance and complement the meat and the sauce. Choose a medium to full bodied Zinfandel, or Pinot Noir or Grenache. If you prefer a white wine, Riesling can perform magic in your mouth when paired with BBQ pork dishes.
- For Chicken & Fish Go With Full Flavoured Whites and Roses
Simple fresh fish or chicken grilled and served with a salad are perfect with a bracingly crisp Sauvignon Blanc, Alvarino, Verdejo, or off dry Riesling. Think herbal and fruity, citrusy, light and refreshing. If you plan on using sticky sauces on the chicken or fish keep away from acidic wines and look for a slightly sweeter, spicy wine such as Gewürztraminer to kick things up. With a blue cheese dip on those spicy chicken wings you’ll be in heaven! Salmon cooked on the grill is a wonderful summer meal, and because it’s more dense and fatty requires a wine with more substance. Try a buttery oaked Chardonnay or a Pinot Noir from California or The Okanagan for a perfect pairing.
So, what to serve to your guests while the main course is grilling and everyone is enjoying light appetizers? Why not try a delicious, surprisingly good chilled red Lambrusco? If you haven’t tried Lambrusco yet, you’re missing out on one of the most delicious, refreshing, and food-friendly sparkling red wines Italy has to offer. Named after both the grape and the designated growing areas in which it’s produced, Lambrusco hails from the northeastern part of Italy known as the Emilia-Romagna region. It sounds fancy, your guests will love it and the best part is, it’s not expensive! It is especially tasty with pizza or flat bread style appetizers.
All of the wines mentioned in this article are readily available and won’t break your budget. Afterall, it’s meant to be a fun, lighthearted time with good friends. I guarantee you’ll enjoy experimenting with these wine and food pairings and your friends will be clamouring for an invite to your next BBQ!
Alison Phillips is co owner of, Aligra Wine & Spirits at West Edmonton Mall, conveniently located at Entrance 58 Lower level below Simons and Scotiabank Theatre. Mention this Prime Time News article and receive 10% off your purchase.