The cranes have flown (at least in France they have!) and that means Spring is around the corner. With the warmer temperatures returning, the first thing that I start to crave is my BBQ. Nothing beats standing around the grill with a glass of wine and good friends. If you are like me, when I grill, I tend to like variety; Whether it is pork sausages and chicken, or steaks with grilled shrimp, BBQ served with a couple of salads (potato salad with herbs and tomato basil are always hits) is always my favourite. And when there is variety with food, I often like variety with wine, so I will usually have a white and a red, and sometimes rosé, because we all know warm weather screams rosé, and let's face it, it goes with almost everything.
Here are some of my go-tos for a great BBQ:
People think chicken with white wine, beef with red wine, and pork? Well, it can go a number of ways. But so can most proteins. The white with white, red with red rule really doesn't always apply, and with BBQ, because of the lovely grill flavours and seasoning, you can often mix and match, which is why I always like to have one of each on hand.
When you are serving beef or pork (steaks, sausages, ribs...) I will usually reach for a red. The high fat content in these meats, and the savoury flavours, balance out the tannins in a big bold red. So, thinking Bordeaux (Cab Sauv blend), Tempranillo (Rioja from Spain?) or a lovely, peppery Syrah from the Rhone (or Shiraz from Australia)...these would all be great choices for a thick cut steak. For pork, I usually tend to go for a slightly less tannic, fruit forward red. Thinking Pinot noir from New Zealand or Burgundy, or a beautiful Primitivo from Puglia, Italy (also known as Zinfandel in California). Something that won't over power, but still has the complexity and structure to go with the fattier meat.
Moving over to chicken and seafood, I tend to gravitate to whites. Which whites, depends on the marinade, cut of chicken or type of seafood, so again, I'll share some of my favourites:
I absolutely love simple, grilled seafood with a squeeze of fresh lemon and sprinkle of parsley - calamari, grilled shrimp, monk fish, a few of my faves. I have a few wines that I love to pair this with: Assyrtiko, a Greek wine indigenous to the island of Santorini - this wine tastes like the sea, with crisp citrus notes, high minerality and an undeniable salinic quality. Next up on my list, another coastal gem, would be Alvarinho from Northern Portugal, or Albarino from Galicia, in Northern Spain. This wine is light and fresh, lemon, lime, grapefruit, pear and some hints of stone fruit. The perfect seafood companion. Switching over to chicken, I often love to do an herbal marinade. Olive oil, garlic, parsley, basil, cilantro, sometimes thyme/rosemary. For this, I love a slightly green or grassy wine. A Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire, a lovely Fumé Blanc from California (Sauvignon Blanc with a hint of oak), or a Gruner Veltliner - an Austrian wine that is magic with food. All of these would go amazingly well with a new potato salad with herbs and goat cheese.
And then Rosé. I almost always bring up Rosé because it is so delicious and versatile. And this is one of those times where I feel like you could start sipping on a Rosé while you are cooking and just continue with it throughout the meal. A little weightier than the whites we talked about, a ton of fruit, but still dry (assuming we are drinking a dry Rosé, thinking Provence or Spain), a hint of structure, the beautiful colour. I could have this with pork, chicken or seafood. I would probably stick to my red for a steak, but could keep with the Rosé for kebabs or burgers.
Whatever you are drinking, I wish you a wonderful start to the BBQ season. Santé!