Kanonkop Kadette Pinotage, Stellenbosch, South Africa 2019 (from £12.99, Waitrose; majestic.co.uk) To judge from the smells wafting around my street over the past few hot weeks, a lot of people have been using their barbecues more than their cookers this summer. It’s a decision I endorse: it’s much more pleasant to cook in the open air than endure the patience- and temper-fraying heat of a kitchen in 40C, or even 30C, heat. Even when it becomes close to habitual, there’s something of the special occasion about cooking on a flaming grill – an excuse, if it were needed, for opening a bottle of something nicer than usual. While I don’t really believe in the marketing concept of the ‘barbie bottle’ – a wine uniquely suited to a barbecue no matter what grilled proteins, salads, or sauces are being served – the smoky flavours of barbecued food do seem to work better with some wines than others. There’s a subtle smoky twang among the brambly fruit, for example, in Kanonkop’s superior pinotage that fits very snugly with smoke-infused burgers and bangers.
Viña Mayu Titon Vineyard Syrah Gran Reserva, Elqui, Chile 2017 (£13.99, Majestic) Succulent reds with a bit of spice, herb or smoke, and which have enough body, depth and force without being too chewily tannic or dry: these are the elements that seem to work best with simply seasoned barbecued red meat. The classic southern French varieties grenache and syrah – whether on their own, as a duo, or as part of a blend with other varieties such as mourvèdre or carignan – are among the best at providing this combination. I’ve enjoyed Château La Négly La Clape 2020 (£12.99, Co-op), a wonderful blackberry-juicy syrah-grenache-mourvèdre from the Languedoc shot through with dark salty olive and rosemary; and the good-value southern Rhône Valley blend Aldi Specially Selected Cairanne 2020 (£8.99) with its tumble of black pepper-seasoned berries and plums. Viña Mayu’s syrah from the high-altitude Elqui Valley in northern Chile, meanwhile, adds a hint of aniseed and liquorice to the dark fruit in a South American asado-ready alternative.
Quinta da Pedra Alta Pedra a Pedra Clarete, Douro, Portugal 2020 (£11.50, The Wine Society) Many if not most barbecues this summer won’t feature any red meat at all, while other wine choices will be shaped as much by the marinades as the style of cooking. My preferred speedy post-work barbecue method of briefly marinating a piece of white meat, some prawns or a few slabs of halloumi with lime juice and sweet chilli sauce works best with citrus-driven dry whites, such as the livewire limey, zesty Western Australian, Tesco Finest Tingleup Riesling 2021 (£9). Aubergines halved, scored and smeared with miso and soy are all smoke, umami and silky flesh. This has a like-with-like affinity with oaky whites such as Cune Barrel-Fermented Rioja Blanco 2020 (from £9.99, Waitrose, Co-op, Sainsbury’s, Majestic). But it also pairs very well with lighter reds served with a bit of chill, such as the unusually brisk, breezy, raspberry-scented Clarete from Quinta da Pedra Alta in the home of port in Portugal’s Douro Valley.
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