BBQ season is open! There’s nothing like a gathering of friends and family on a hot sunny day to share perfectly cooked meat and start creating great summer memories. Treat yourself and those who make your season memorable to a glass that adds to the experience: the day might start as BYOB but soon you all will be tasting and toasting from the group’s picks.
To help you choose wines and drinks for BBQ wisely here are three handy tips: BBQ meat is strong enough to stand a powerful wine but since not all guests tend go for the harsher and stronger reds it’s best to find a friendly but structured style (unless you know that your tannin-crazed mates will be there, then go Cab-Sauv on them!).
Secondly, as shocking as it is, not everyone enjoys red wines, so being the considerate pal you are, bringing something more hoppy or malty will give to the table a most welcomed variety. Finally, the weather (we hope!) will be warm so you won’t be judged if you cool your reds a little bit, however you might go to trial if your beers are warm and you surely will be found guilty if you forget the ice.
A is for WINES
Argentina, Australia and America have more in common than their initial letter. These countries have distinctive barbecue cultures and you’ll pass the test with an A+ if you let the locals guide your grilling.
Kaiken Malbec Reserve 2014
13,5% ABV – Available at Winesdirect.ie
A classic Malbec with the character that a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon adds to the structure. Deep intense and smooth looking red with purple gleams, this Malbec delivers the expected blackberry and cherry aromas of the variety but then it goes the extra mile on the spiciness thanks to six months of ageing in new and used French oak barrels.
You can even get a delicate minty note that will keep things fresh. The tannins are velvety and quickly surround the palate, which works wonderfully well to compliment a umami-rich Argentinian asado.
Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
14,5% ABV – Available at O’Briens Wines
Waves of ripe black fruit are surfed by coffee, cocoa and toasted aromas in this tannic-tastic Californian red made in a style that evokes Bordeaux with a blend of about three quarters of Cabernet Sauvignon, nearly 20% Merlot and a small bit of Petit Verdot and Malbec.
One and a half years in small French oak barrels are to blame (or to thank!) for the taming of its wild tannins that present themselves with elegance. This wine goes with BBQ just like fireworks go with a Fourth of July.
Yalumba Organic Shiraz 2014
13,5% ABV – Available at Baggot Street Wines
An organic beauty from Barossa Valley, Australian Shiraz’s hot spot. It’s medium-bodied and rich, intense crimson coloured, with aromas of licorice and plums enhanced by a strong sweet spice taste. A contrasting bite of peppercorns and cherry reminds you of a summery forest hike.
Despite its flavour intensity, the tannins feel silky on the palate and it’s well balanced. A lovely wine to drink on a sunny day while enjoying freshly grilled cuts.
B is for BEERS
Craft a perfect match between the plate and the pint with a choice of beer that stays on the dry side but is not overly bitter. These two make sense…
5,5% ABV – €3.5 – Available at O’Briens Wines.
A pleasant chocolate and caramel start is soon replaced by a lasting hoppy taste that contrasts with aromas and flavours of orange peel.
Despite its darkness, it’s light bodied and acidic enough to balance the fat in the meat without fighting for your palate’s attention.
Wicklow Wolf American Amber
4,8% ABV – €3.65 – Available at Celtic Whisky Shop, O’Briens Wines
An Irish take on an American Ale that merges tropical fruit and a mild bitterness in a way that makes your mouth water.
Refreshing and mellow, it’s a great choice if you want something more complex than a lager but are not ready to commit to a stout.
C is for COCKTAIL
Whiskey on the rocks is a trendy grilling companion, especially if you get a mid-bodied gentle blend that doesn’t over complicate-things, for example West Cork Original Blend from West Cork Distilleries (available at Celtic Whisky Shop). However, dare to leave your comfort zone and enter into a cool territory with a classic whiskey-based drink that is ideal for a summer party: Mint Julep.
Making this drink is extremely easy, you just need to break some fresh mint leaves on a highball glass, add a dash of syrup (or a teaspoon of sugar), whiskey to taste (the official rule calls for 6 cl but it’s your part after all) and enough cracked ice to fill the glass.
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.