Question: I’m hosting a barbecue over this holiday weekend including lots of hamburgers and hot dogs. What wine should I serve?
Answer: Very topical question generated by the celebrations for the July 1 Canada Day & July 4 Independence Day holidays! A little bit of a semantics issue on the use of the word “barbecue” because many people think this means simply to use a barbecue sauce while others use it in a wider connotation to include all grilling. Further complicated by so many of us now using propane gas rather than the traditional wood or charcoal. The flavours on your food – including hamburgers and hotdogs – will be quite different depending on these choices as will your preferred wine selections. Difficult to make a single recommended wine choice. The usual cop out answer of the wine and budget you like best works well for a barbecue. However, spicy California Zinfandel, Australian Shiraz, Argentina Malbec, Chilean Carmenere, Italian Negroamaro and others in that style should work well as your foods should have some rich, smoky, chargrilled sweet spicy caramelized flavours. Don’t forget that a wider selection could include Sparkling (aperitif – maybe with a syrah dosage for colour and sweetness), Rose (versatile – dry and sweet styles – for pulled pork), Sauvignon or Fume Blanc (vegetables like asparagus & tomatoes – other veg like peppers, onion, eggplant, zucchini can be enhanced with Rioja), New World Chardonnay (Chicken), Unoaked crisper Chardonnay or Chablis (Seafood), Languedoc-Roussillon (Mediterranean herbs), Syrah, Cab or Merlot (charred meats). I generally avoid pinot noir and Piedmont as being too delicate and subtle for the bold assertive barbecue foods. My wife Joan and I are judging on July 12 the Similkameen British Columbia 2014 BBQ King or Queen competition but they will be serving a very wide selection of BC Okanagan grape varieties and blends to serve with this barbecue.
My favorite wine with “Southeastern” Bar BQ is a young California pinot noir. Next would be a Cornas, then a CDP. These all have softer, rounder characteristics to me, and don’t interfere with the nuances of great Bar BQ.
Please understand that Southerners “revere” their Bar BQ.