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Frivolous and fun: how to pick perfect wines for barbecues

Fri 16 Jul 2010 12:49

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We're in the height of summer and there’s nothing better at this time of year than getting out there and enjoying a barbecue in the great outdoors.

Of course, the weather in Scotland is so unpredictable that the rain often ruins the best laid plans, but if you do manage to go ahead with your outdoor party, there’s nothing that helps it go with a bang more than a tasty tipple to accompany the food.

Because of the smoky flavour of barbecued food, a lot of wines are simply too grand and ‘serious’ to be the right partner, but wine guru Tom Cannavan is, as ever, on hand to tell us how to get it just right.

According to him, the best type of tipple to choose is one with plenty of fruit and an easy-drinking character, and a hint of smokiness or spice which will match up with the food.

Here are Tom’s three favourite barbecue wines, a white from South Africa, a red from Australia and a blush wine from the USA.
1. South African White, South Africa, £4.49 from SPAR
Tom generally believes that barbecued food suits red wine more than white, but everyone needs a warm-up glass of something whilst they are waiting, and fish can be great from the barbie too, so here's an inexpensive little white from South Africa that offers plenty of crisp, easy-drinking fruit and would fit the bill perfectly.

With lovely fresh flavours of lemons and green apples, this particular pick is perfect as an aperitif, but also matches up well with most fish and beautifully with barbecued sweet corn.

2. House Shiraz, Australia, £3.99 from Sainsbury's
This is another non-vintage wine (which means the grapes come from two or more harvests) and is a bit of a bargain.

This spicy, berry-fruited Shiraz is the perfect barbecue party red - it is very easy to drink, but packed with flavour too. The screwcapped bottle is another bonus.

Tasting cues of black berries and peppercorns mean this wine goes brilliantly with barbecued burgers or sausages, and with sweet or spicy sauces

3. Ravenswood Vintners Blend Zinfandel 2007, California, £4.93 from Asda
If the budget stretches to it, this Zinfandel is the perfect barbecue wine in many ways. Not only is there loads of raspberry-ish fruit, but it has lots of spice, smokiness and, yes, a beefy quality with meaty depth.

This is a real banker for classic barbecued red meats such as steaks or quality burgers, or it also goes well with charred chicken breast marinated in spices. Flavours of raspberries and raisins give it a lovely fresh, fruity finish.

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