It’s a Bank Holiday weekend – think barbecues, bangers and bottles.
How to choose the right wine to accompany your burnt offerings? The golden rule is to forget anything delicate, subtle or complex, as these qualities will literally be wafted away on the summer breeze – or at the very least be obliterated by the smoke from the barbecue. What you want is big, bold and beefy (how long can I keep up this b-fest?).
The Rhône varieties Syrah and Grenache, alone or together, have flavours that complement smoky barbecue fare. Here are some from the Rhône and beyond.
Château Pesquié Terrasses Ventoux 2012 - £12.75 online or as part of a mixed case of six from The Good Wine Shop (branches in Esher, Kew and Chiswick), £14 from R&B Wines, also at Bordeaux Index
Ventoux, a large wine region in northern Provence, has a low profile compared with nearby Southern Rhône stars like Gigondas and Châteauneuf-du-Pape and, it must be said, quality is mixed. However, there are some really good wines to be found, like this blend of mostly Grenache with some Syrah. Dark, rich berry fruits mingle with liquorice in the mouth. This will stand up to any meat lover’s barbecue.
The Cubist Old Vine Garnacha 2013, Calatayud, spain - £9.99 from Waitrose
Spain is a good source of big, ripe reds with the right kind of profile for outdoor eating. This has plenty of concentrated black fruit, along with a spice-herb-pepper combination on the side.
You could also try Cruz de Piedra Seleccion Especial Garnacha 2013 - £8.25 from The Wine Society.
Falernia Reserva Syrah 2011, Chile - £9.95 from Great Western Wine, £12.95 from Slurp.co.uk, also from independents
Chile makes some lip-smacking Syrahs that combine clean, ripe fruit flavours with a refreshing pepperiness. This is a real crowd-pleaser of a wine with bags of ripe, sweet fruit before the black pepper kicks in on the finish.
In the same vein, but with a bit more elegance is long-time Chilean Syrah superstar Matetic EQ Syrah 2012 - £16.50 from The Wine Society (2013), £17.95 from Slurp.co.uk (2011).
White wines need to have plenty of personality if they are to stand up to outdoor drinking - this is not the time to uncork your best Pouilly Fumé. Go for wines with plenty of fruit, some weight and, if there’s spice involved, a bit of sweetness too.
A Mano Puglia Bianco 2014, Italy - £7.95 from The Wine Society, £8.95 from Slurp.co.uk and other independent merchants
This refreshingly different white, made from a blend of varieties including the aromatic Fiano, has bags of character and a certain soft weightiness with a food-friendly saline lick.
Cono Sur Reserva Especial Riesling 2012, Chile – on offer at Morrison’s for £5.99 (usually £8.99)
A little sweetness here makes for a good match with chilli, though the balancing acidity and zippy lime fruit mean that you won’t feel like you’re drinking anything sweet. And at this price, you can’t go wrong.