FIFTY SHADES OF BLACK
WINES TO BEAT MY BBQ COOKING!
My wine writing/blogging colleagues in the UK are always desperate to make sure that their columns recommending wines for barbecues go to press/internet in June or maybe early July when perhaps the first rays of sunshine in Britain, at last bring some warmth.
Here in Spain though, I don’t have to be in such a rush to make some recommendations re wines to enjoy with barbecued food. We are so lucky to be able have barbecues, practically all the year long. However, for those attending a BBQ of mine I really should issue some sort of warning. It’s not that there’s a fear of any nasty ‘asking for trouble’ under-cooking, quite the reverse. Food barbecued by me suffers an identity crisis, masked as it invariably is, by fifty shades of black!
It’s funny, the things you recall. Fifty-four years ago my Primary School teacher reprimanded me for complaining that it was the pencil that made my writing so illegible, not me! “A poor workman always blames his tools!” was the retort as the ruler hit my fingers. So I mustn’t blame the BBQ and all the attendant paraphernalia, it must just be my ineptitude, as it certainly was with my handwriting!
However, whilst this is indubitably a major failing of mine – the same cannot be said of my choice of wines, though I admit that these wines are usually best consumed at other people’s BBQs!
So define BBQ food – it’s difficult, isn’t it? (Unless it’s mine!) There can be vegetables, fish, all manner of meats and of course, marinades, sauces et al. It can be typically British – what is that nowadays?! Or maybe American influenced, I’m not just talking Burgers, what about foods from the deep South of North America, or indeed Hispanic specialities. Or Australian, Asian, Oriental and eclectic fusion food too.
The possibilities are too great to be able to recommend just one catch-all wine style. So we need to think of options according to the food style and the ingredients. However, no matter what the actual dish is, there is still one common denominator – that wonderful smoky barbecue aroma, and indeed flavour, to the finished product. This is a help for the person designated to choose the wine. Certain wines pair perfectly with this smokiness, others do very well, but some just don’t work.
It’s probably true to say that white wines make fewer good partnerships with BBQ food than do reds and rosados. However there are exceptions, which is also helpful if the barbecue has a fish and/or seafood element.
With white wines we should be looking for a touch of oak, which itself often entails a sort of smokiness – so ideal with a barbecue. White wines that do particularly well in this respect often have Chardonnay in the blend.
Bodegas Belda, DO Valencia, makes a Chardonnay FB (fermented in barrel) which adds depth to the wine, giving it some extra power to stand up to the BBQ food, as well as improving the overall flavour with that lightly toasted barrica flavour and some vanilla notes too.
Bodegas Castaño’s, DO Yecla, Macabeo/Chardonnay has fermented some of the Chardonnay in oak giving depth and a roundness to the Macabeo, which brings freshness too. This wine has the body to stand up to the food as well as the acidity to keep the palate clean.
I’ve been quoted over Twitter with over a thousand views regarding my comment that Xarel.lo, from Cataluña is the new Chardonnay. As such it too would be a good match for some BBQ food. Indeed Bodegas Canal & Munné’s Gran Blanc Princeps Xarel.lo Fermentado en Barrica would be excellent, though a little more costly than the above Chardonnays.
There are some rosados to consider too. Try for example Rosé Princeps, also from Canals & Munné. Usually light in the mouth and probably not quite having the body to withstand BBQ food unless slightly oak aged, this rosado is made with Merlot , resulting in a rosado wine with attitude!
Another is Bodegas Del Rosario’s Las Reñas Rosado which has the body but also a pleasing freshness to it. It’s been made with Monastrell as are several of the reds I’m about to mention. Monastrell, the ideal variety for barbecues?
Bodegas Carrascalejo’s Monastrell is a joven (young) wine, without ageing – a lovely fruit led wine for easy drinking, and let’s admit it, there’s often plenty of that going on when there’s a barbecue! I’ve also had plenty of Bodegas Castaño’s joven Monastrell which I’ve found to be perfect with BBQs this year too.
Las Reñas Monastrell 2012 is also a young red wine. A wine to simply enjoy with or without food, and a sure hit with BBQs.
The Homenaje Tinto joven I served slightly chilled (as I did with the above Castaño Monastrell). It’s just the sort of red that can handle this and is therefore perfect for these stiflingly hot temperatures that we are enduring/enjoying(?!) at the moment.
Monterebro Barrica, DO JUmilla has enjoyed four months in American and French new oak barrels (barricas) and has extra body to go along with the juicy fruit making it ideal with barbecues red meats.
ad, from Bodegas Heretat de Sicilia is made from Syrah, Petit Verdot and Monastrell and is a big and fruity wine for quite early drinking, which can also be served slightly chilled.