Perfect wines for the barbecue

Look for fruity, easy to drink bottles to sweeten and smooth out charred notes, and cool you down.

By Anne Martin, Sommelier

With summer in full-swing, the barbecue is everyone's go-to cooking appliance. So, it helps to know what wines work with grilled fare. A subtle wine won't match with big flavours, so look for fruity, easy to drink bottles to sweeten and smooth out charred notes, and cool you down.

Making a good match depends heavily on the sauce, marinade and meat you're using. With an Asian-style marinade on pork or chicken, stick to a white such as a Riesling or Pinot Gris. A Thai-marinated flank steak tastes best with a dry rose or a light Pinot Noir. For simply grilled, unadorned red meats, choose single-varietal reds, such as Zinfandel from California, Shiraz from Australia, Malbec from Argentina or Carmenère from Chile. Or try a blend, such as a Port-style red that includes Touriga Nacional from the Douro Valley in Portugal, or a Grenache-Syrah from the southern Rhône or Vin de Pays d'Oc in France. A juicy Pinot Noir from New Zealand or B.C. is delicious with burgers.

If you're stuck between red and white, a dry rosé is the ultimate all-around barbecue wine. Made everywhere these days – from Canada to Spain – it has enough body to take on full flavours, offers loads of fruit and is best served chilled. Big tannic wines are tough to take in the heat, but if you feel the need to drink one with your steak, decant and chill it slightly to keep it from getting soupy and tasting overly alcoholic.

This story was originally titled "Wines for the Barbecue" in the June 2010 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!

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