The smell of charcoal burning and tasty treats being cooked outside is starting to fill the air across the UK as more and more people start lighting their summer barbecues. A barbecue is a great way to celebrate summer and to throw a summer party. As it is outside there is often less clearing up afterwards and it is an ideal way to stay outside a bit more than usual and enjoy the rare patches of clement weather. But what is good to drink at a barbecue what type of wine works well and are there other drinks that are especially suited to the meat based highly sauced often a little charred food that comes off the barbecue.
As a good rule of thumb when it comes to barbecue wines, look to the great barbecuers of the world - the Americans, the Argentineans, the Australians and the South Africans. These wines are often richer than their European counterparts due to the increased ripening time and therefore go really well with richer foods so when barbecuing there is no need to hold the sauces or forego that chilli in the things that you are serving as there are some fantastic wines that will work really well with this kind of food
When it comes to white wines to serve at or to take along to a barbecue it a regular Chardonnay is perfect. No need to go for a top of the range wine subtle flavours will not be enhanced by barbecue food. In fact a chardonnay is even better when it is a blended wine as then you get a bit of a tropical taste to the flavour which really goes well with grilled food. Australian wine is often blended so look out for that. If you are mainly barbecuing fish you might be better with a new world Sauvignon Blanc as this has quite a sharp flavour which works well with oily fish or seafood. Sauvignon Blanc again is probably best from Australia as a barbecue wine but there are also some good varieties from Chile and South Africa which will also make your barbecue go with a swing.
When it comes to red wines that work with barbecue food again look to the new world. Look at countries which have a big steak tradition as their red wines will be perfect with a meat based barbecue. One word of warning though, be careful not to choose wines that have a rich oaky flavour as this will overwhelm your senses. The ideal wine is one that has been made from very ripe fruit and so again Australian wines are ideal however look out for wines from South Africa and Argentina too
If you want something a little different why not make your own wine cooler. A big jug of wine fizzy water ice and fruit makes a great cool drink to serve and also as the water minimises the alcohol content you wont feel any worse for wear for drinking it.
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Fiona Muller has been writing for over 20 years. She is a qualified journalist and has worked in food and drink writing for the last few years, especially about barbecue wines. For a great selection of wines, including tips on which food they go best with , go to laithwaites.co.uk
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