Part of the third generation in a family of restaurateurs, Camille was born with a passion for cooking and food. She embarked on a career in hospitality where she excelled as a sommelier and wine director. This hospitality experience has endowed her with a wealth of first-hand knowledge of various cuisines, how to pair all manner of drinks with food, and entertaining – plus some serious kitchen skills. She is a Certified Sommelier, Certified Specialist of Wine, and has passed the WSET Advanced with Merit. These days, she’s hung up her wine key in favor of a pen and covers all aspects of food and drink.
BBQ and Wine? You Bet! These are Our Top Pairings
With winter behind us, many are beginning to cast longing glances at the grill. Yes, with temperatures beginning to warm up, it’s time to break out the charcoal and start barbecuing. Of course, there’s nothing like a great wine to complement your delicious grilled eats. No matter if you’re flipping burgers, grilling steaks, making vegetable kebabs, or shrimp skewers, we’ve got a round-up of the best wines to serve at your next barbecue. But before we dive in, here are a couple of general guidelines for you when you’re choosing a wine.
- Go with a bold wine for bold flavors.
- Broadly speaking, white wines and roses go best with seafood and chicken while red meats call for a glass of red wine. Pork is more versatile, able to work well with any of these three styles. Naturally, there are exceptions.
- So what about sauces and seasonings? You can go two different routes, complementary (like for like) pairings or contrasting pairings. For example, wines with a hint of smoke go well with the smoky flavors imparted by your barbecue while you should aim for a ripe or off-dry style of wine if you’ve used a spicy rub.
- If you’ve chosen a spicy marinade, skip high alcohol wines. They can emphasize chili heat in an unpleasant way.
The Best Wines For Your BBQ
Naturally, just which bottles you’ll uncork will depend on what you’re throwing on the barbecue. Meat, seafood, poultry, veggies…it’s a lot to consider and that’s not even taking into account marinades. But don’t worry, none of this is rocket science. At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember is to drink what you love without stressing about the “correct” pairings.
Yes, a bit of bubbly can be a real winner for your backyard bash. Opt for value-oriented options like Cava, Moscato d’Asti or the ever-popular, fruity Prosecco. All three styles make for a lovely way to kick off the festivities. Grilling up some spicy garlic butter prawns with a squeeze of lemon juice? Try the Nino Franco Rustico Prosecco.
Sauvignon Blancs from Sancerre or Marlborough makes for a great pairing with grilled vegetables and grilled fish marinated in citrus. If you want to go the French route, we recommend Alphonse Mellot’s beautiful Sancerres. Try and track down his ‘La Moussiere’ and serve it with grilled halibut tacos and citrus slaw. If Marlborough is more your speed, Seresin Estate Sauvignon Blanc will do the trick with hard to pair veggies. It’s delicious with grilled asparagus and parmesan.
Love scallops? Reach for a chilled bottle of Chardonnay. Just make sure it isn’t a heavily oaked style. Opt for something like Brewer-Clifton Chardonnay, made in the Sta. Rita Hills with barbecued scallops in the shell served up with a touch of lemon and bacon. Scallops would also be delicious with a South African Chenin Blanc like those made by Ken Forrester.
Most everyone loves a good rosé and when it comes to sunny days spent with friends, you can’t go wrong if you drink pink. Dry but fruity rosés such as those based on Sangiovese, Garnacha or Tempranillo are particularly excellent partners for grilled oysters, fatty fish like salmon or tuna, pork, and chicken. For grilled veggies, hit lighter styles made from Pinot Noir a rosé hailing from Provence or a rosé of Cabernet Franc. Cab Franc rosés are outstanding with grilled stuffed peppers thanks to their characteristic green bell pepper notes.
Odds are meats will represent the bulk of your barbecuing which means red wine should be your first port of call. South Carolina is famous for its spicy mustard based sauces slathered over pork. A fruity New World Pinot Noir is the way to go to balance out that spicy kick. We suggest Ojai Vineyard’s version from Santa Barbara.
Over in North Carolina, barbecue sauces look a little different. In the northern part of the state, sauces tend to be a little sweeter and sometimes you’ll see the addition of tomato, especially over in Lexington. Pork is still the go-to meat here. Let those smoky pork flavors guide your wine choice and try a Northern Rhone Syrah like then Domaine Alain Graillot Saint Joseph.
Dry-rubbed spiced lamb thrown on the barbecue is exquisite with Tempranillo. Stick to crianzas or reservas like those made by Rioja legend Cune. The savory herbal element in Rioja complements the lamb beautifully.
Kansas City barbecue is smoky and seasoned with dry-rubbed spices then served up with a generous dose of tomato-based barbecue sauce. You can’t go wrong with a nice ripe Primitivo like San Marzano’s Il Pumo.
Down in Alabama, they’re known for Alabama white sauce made from mayo and vinegar and is a favorite for chicken and pork. Go bright and fruity with your wine pairing. We recommend Planeta’s Cerasuolo di Vittoria.
There are plenty of delicious wines out there to complement your favorite off the grill dishes. You can use a backyard barbecue as an excuse to try different grape varieties or wine regions you may not be familiar with. Of course, if you’re a die-hard fan of a specific style, there’s no harm in serving tried and true favorites. After all, it’s not about the food you eat or the drinks you drink, but the folks you’re spending your time with.
Discover Some of the Loire Valley’s Most Exciting Wines
The Loire Valley is often referred to as the ‘Garden of France.’ This sobriquet is well-deserved. France’s longest river snakes through the region from its source in the Massif Central to the Atlantic Ocean and all along the way, the banks of the Loire and its tributaries are studded with vineyards. From instantly recognizable varieties like Sauvignon Blanc to lesser-known indigenous grapes, Loire Valley winemaking is a study in excellence. We’ll take a brief tour through the valley, highlighting some of the Loire’s most famous wine appellations and the grapes which yield these fantastic wines.
Located in the heart of France, the unquestionable stars of the Central Vineyard are Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume. Both appellations have made a name for themselves thanks to their superlative Sauvignon Blancs. Dry, with vibrant citrus aromas and flavors, Sancerre is hailed around the world as the home of the finest Sauvignon Blancs. But quality Sancerre doesn’t stop there – winemakers in Sancerrealso produce lively rosés and reds made exclusively from Pinot Noir.
Across the river, Pouilly-Fume is dedicated solely to the art of making Sauvignon Blanc. These beautiful, expressive wines are legendary for their smoky, gunflint aroma and ability to age.
Moving west from the Central Vineyards, we come to Touraine, whose landscapes boast many fairytale-like chateaux. Within Touraine’s many appellations, every color and style of wine is made, but there are a few highlights every savvy wine lover should know.
Vouvray is known for its lovely white wines based on Chenin Blanc. These wines are made in a variety of styles from bone dry to sensuously sweet, still and sparkling. They’re wonderfully versatile when it comes to pairing with food and make fantastic drinking options in spring and summer.
Red wine fans should get acquainted with Chinon and Bourgeuil. These two appellations make stellar reds and rosés made from the incomparable Cabernet Franc. With ample red berry and lifted floral aromas, the most notable characteristic of these Cab Francs is their savory herbal qualities. The rosés are particularly excellent with vegetable tarts.
Anjou-Saumur is really two overarching regions in which dozens of appellations are nested. If you can’t get enough bright, summery rosés, you’ll feel right at home in Anjou. Many of the region’s rosés are based on Cabernet Franc, but there are outstanding off-dry versions made from Grolleau, a grape native to the region. You’ll find the latter bottled under the Rosé d’Anjou AOC – a clever pairing for lightly spiced dishes (think Cajun blackened shrimp). If dry rosés are more your speed, Rosé de Loire offers can’t miss rosés of unparalleled sophistication.
Again, while other styles are made throughout Anjou, there are definitely a few standouts in the region. Savennieres makes phenomenal dry Chenin Blanc. Rich, nutty, and incredibly complex, they can age for many years. There’s also decadent sweet Chenin Blanc made in Bonnezeaux and Quarts de Chaume. Some of the grapes which go into these wines are affected by noble rot or botrytis, which is also responsible for other celebrated dessert wines like Sauternes and Tokaji.
Love sparkling wine? Look no further than Saumur. This is the central hub of Loire Valley bubbly. These are traditional method sparkling wines made in the same fashion as Champagne. The aromatic local Chenin Blanc plus Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir (two of the three grapes of Champagne) are the go-tos for most sparkling winemakers in the region, but a smattering of other grapes like Cabernets Franc and Sauvignon, and the local Pineau d’Aunis and Grolleau make an appearance in some cuvées.
Beyond its stellar sparkling, Saumur also boasts the Saumur-Champigny appellation which easily makes the best reds in the region. Cabernet Franc forms the backbone of these wines, but winemakers are allowed a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon or the rare local Pineau d’Aunis. Slightly spicy and rich in berry fruit, Saumur-Champigny is stunning with anything off the grill.
Muscadet is definitely a region to know for all you oyster lovers out there. This light, bright, white wine is one of the classic pairings for fresh oysters as well as other delicacies from the sea. Made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape, Muscadet is mineral-driven with a light citrus note. The best examples come from Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine AOC, where the wines are aged sur lieor on their lees, which imparts a lovely creamy, slightly rounder texture to the wines.
Whether you’re a seasoned wine connoisseur or just beginning your journey into the world of wine, the Loire Valley is not to be missed. From expressive reds and vibrant whites to summery rosés and scintillating sparklings, the Loire definitely has it all.There are many other appellations to discover in le Jardin de la France, but you can’t go wrong starting off with any of the regions we’ve touched upon. Home to both high-quality wines and plenty of variety, the food-friendly wines of the Loire Valley won’t disappoint.
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