Last week was white wines for barbecues, and with the continuing hot weather, this week it’s the reds turn. Barbecues and subtle, delicate wines do not go together. To compete with the rich smells and flavours of barbecued food you need a wine with dark fruit and chocolate notes, so forget about whites and rosés – think instead of robustly-flavoured reds.
Red wines made with the red-berry tasting grape varieties of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo work best with barbecued meats. Their blackberry and cherry flavours in Italian and Spanish blends have enough strength to keep up with oily marinades and crispy cooking.
The typical slightly-burnt barbecued burger often comes topped with a fiery chilli-tomato relish. You’d think drinking a cold beer or chilled white wine with this would help soothe the tongue of excess chilli, but actually a room-temperature red wine is a better bet: your tongue feels cleansed enough for your taste buds to start registering again. Your burger will taste meaty and your red wine fruity.
Fruity tasting wines don’t happen by accident. Where grapes grow will affect a wines flavour. Warm southern Mediterranean countries tend to produce fruity wines and these typically have an alcoholic content of around 12.5 per cent. This level of alcohol gives the wine enough mouth-cleansing body without being overwhelmingly alcoholic.
American and Australian wines can measure a massive 14.5 per cent. Such high levels of alcohol leave a wine sickly-sweet and so intensely flavoured that it overpowers any food it meets. Not all southern-hemisphere wines contain so much alcohol. The Californian Gallo wines are typically a more manageable 10%. Read the small print on the wine bottle’s label before buying to be sure you don’t get more than you want.
PG Wine Reviews
Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Portuguese Lisboa 2016
£6 Sainsbury’s (down from £7 until July 3)
This blend of three Portuguese varieties with a dash of Syrah is a nice medium-tasting red that’s not too feeble for smoky barbecued food, or too overpowering and alcoholic that it burns your throat on the way down. Expect flavours of blackcurrant, cocoa and blackpepper.
Co-op Irresistible Fairtrade Argentinean Malbec 2015
Flavours and aromas of milk chocolate cake with a bit of plum.
Running with bulls Tempranillo 2014, Australia
Sophisticated flavours of cherry and choocolate cake. Not sweet and obvious.
Leon Perdigal Cotes du Rhone 2016, France
Plum, cherry and some smoky blackcurrant.
S&R Portuguese Douro Red
£11.99 Majestic (price reduces to £8.99 if bought in mixed case of 6)
Coffee, cherry and barley sugar flavours. And the bottle label has a nice texture to it – it looks and feels like bathroom tiling. Not sure why but it looks pretty.