There are many predictable occurrences at a BBQ; the sausages will disappear before they are officially served, the alpha dad will soon establish a friendly dominance over the flame, someone will be slagged over their (in)ability to keep the fire alive and if there’s any dog among the guests, it will make sure not a crumb is left on the floor. Bread and salad will come only in two quantities: too little or enough to feed an army and everyone will stay outdoors for way longer than originally planned.
Not everything about a BBQ has to be a certainty. In fact, adding an element of surprise here and there will get guests’ more engaged. When it comes to choosing the drinks for the occasion, dare to skip the Argentinian Malbec and the watery lagers and serve something unexpected next time.
Here are seven of the best wines for BBQ that no one saw coming to inspire you!
12.5% ABV – Rueda, Spain
€12.99 – Available at Baggot Street Wines, Martins Off Licence, Drinkstore.ie, Fresh The Good Food Market
This summery and pale wine is a textbook Verdejo from Rueda, a Spanish wine region distinguishing itself for its fragrant and fruity whites.
Limoncello, grapefruit zest, green melon and balm mint combine both on the nose and the palate. Balanced and mouth-watering, it’s a medium bodied and fruity dry wine that will go nicely as an aperitif (it’s so well suited for a warm day that you can just keep pouring!).
Gérard Bertrand Hedonisme Rose
12.5% – Provence, France
€15.95 (buy 1 get 1 half price) – Available at O’Briens Wine
This subtly pink organic wine from the South of France is dry and elegant. Delicate and crisp, its inviting aromas of strawberry shortcake and apple blossom contrast with a juicy raspberry-like acidity on the palate and a touch of pink grapefruit.
Its creamy texture is another surprise, and its body is fuller than expected. It honours its name, Hedonism, as it’s pure Mediterranean pleasure. While it’s ideal with salad, grilled chicken or fish, it’s very versatile, one that can be sipped through the whole evening.
Villa Cialdini Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro
11% – Emilia Romagna, Italy
€27.99 – Available at The Cork Screw, Egans, World Wide Wines
This bright ruby fizzy red is Lambrusco done well. Balanced and lively, it has nothing to do with the soulless sweet bottles that make people wary of the style. The winery has been run by the same family since 1860 and in 2002 they built a state-of-the-art winery to produce premium Lambrusco.
Dry and intense, it has aromas and flavours of ripe strawberries, redcurrants and cherry preserves, and its tannins are mellow and very pleasant. It’s better slightly chilled.
Bodegones del Sur Tannat 2015
13.5% – Uruguay
€16.95 – Available at O’Briens Wine
Uruguayan wine is usually under the shadow of it’s giant neighbours Chile and Argentina but the country has mastered Tannat, a powerful variety that’s also popular in South West France and known to give intense and high-tannin reds.
This example is on the smooth side, youthful and juicy, generous in aromas of ripe blackberries and black cherries, balanced by a moderate acidity and a plump body. It is the ultimate steak wine and it will go perfectly well with beef and lamb BBQ.
Herdade Do Esporão Monte Velho Tinto 2016
13.5% ABV – Antelejo, Portugal
€14.50 – Available at Fine Wines, Limerick; The Corkscrew; Londis KCR
A Mediterranean climate and an average of 300 days of sun per year not only give us absolute weather envy, it ensures that the grapes for this Portuguese red will ripe to that sweet perfect juicy point needed to make mouth-filling exuberant wines.
Lean and balanced, it’s a blend of local grapes with an enticing combination of blackberries, dried cranberries and ripe red plums, and a touch of sweet spices like cinnamon and vanilla.
CM Carmenère Elqui 2016
14% – Elqui Valley, Chile
€13.30 – Available at M&S
Viña Falernia is located in Chile’s Elqui Valley, the country’s northernmost wine region, 530 km north of Santiago and influenced by the Atacama Dessert. Here, plenty of light, heat and sandy soils full of stones provide the setting for Carmenère to develop fully.
This wine is like a thick velvet cape wrapping your palate. Aromas of cranberries and cherries combine with pepper and savoury Mediterranean herbs. A delicate earthy note on the palate completes its character.
Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel 2013
14.5% – Lodi, California
€18.95 – Available at O’Briens Wine
Lodi is THE place to go for premium Californian Zinfandel. The variety, often underemployed in forgettable off-dry rosé, is also the base for stunning red wines. The fruit in this old vine Zin (35 to 80 years old) achieves a wonderful concentration and the wine itself is complex, well-rounded and fulfilling.
Aromas of red cherry preserve, toast, pepper, roasted cocoa nibs, cinnamon, vanilla and a delicate smoky note combine in this intense bottle that begs to be open when the meat is sizzling hot.
Gabriela’s passion for writing is only matched by her love for food and wine. Journalist, confectioner and sommelier, she fell in love with Ireland years ago and moved from Venezuela to Dublin in 2014.
Since then, she has written about and worked in the local food scene, and she’s determined to discover and share the different traditions, flavours and places that have led Irish food and drink to fascinate her.