Need a barbecue-friendly red wine?

  • Jun. 7, 2018 11:30 a.m.

At the risk of being summarily ejected from the cellar, we would like to insist that there are very few colours, kinds or styles of wines that are not just fine with barbecued foods.

While today’s picks are all red, under the appropriate circumstances and considering the lucky wine lovers’ personal preferences, white wines and rosés can be wonderfully suitable, too.

“International Canadian Blended” (ICB) wines are easy to enjoy and even easier to afford. From Andrew Peller Limited, Unreserved Smooth Red (760793) $9.99 is a fruity mouthful of raspberry and cherry and ripe damson plum flavours. A blend of Tempranillo and Cabernet, with an exotic splash of Muscat with subtle French and American oak aging adding depth of flavour and complexity.

Regardless of what fish, fowl, meat – or even vegetable! – you toss on the barbecue, the best wine pairings echo or enhance the flavours of the herbs and sauces that you choose… not necessarily the main ingredient.

In 1926, 80km north of Lisbon, Abel Pereira da Fonseca founded the Sanguinhal Agricultural Company in Obidos. It is now demarcated into 3 separate estates or ‘Quintas’: Quinta do Sanguinhal, Quinta das Cerejeiras and Quinta de San Francisco.

Sanguinhal Cerejeiras Tinto (762526) $12.49 is a fresh and fully-fruited red oozing cherry, raspberry, and soft peppery spice. A blend of Castelão, Aragonez (aka:Tinto Roriz or Tempranillo) and Touriga Nacional grown close enough to the Atlantic Ocean to sprinkle a little salt into the finish, it is unoaked and unabashedly fruity.

Lightly dressed main dishes will be buried by full bodied red wines. Lighter foods like chicken will overpower medium bodied red wines if the chicken is sauced with a rich marinade of soy, tomatoes, brown sugar and molasses.

South American reds are amongst the least expensive wines to really deliver ripe, rich fruit and firm tannins. Out of Argentina, Finca Los Primos Malbec (4738431) $16.49 (…for a full litre sized bottle!) is a rich and full-bodied Malbec. This red wine boasts intense aromas and flavours of ripe cherries and plums with notes of fresh-cut tobacco leaf up front and in the finish.

In most cases, medium bodied reds are the one-style-fits-all choice for barbecuing. Dry wines often seem fruitier from the interactions with bbq sauces and marinades. Jammy, fruity reds can suddenly turn surprisingly dry and elegant if they are paired with richer sauces.

The Martini family has been crafting world-class Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa and Sonoma’s finest vineyards since 1933. Louis M. Martini started with this simple premise: the best grapes make the best wines. Today, this tradition carries on at their historic winery in the Napa Valley with a range of unforgettable Cabernet Sauvignon wines.

California Cabernets can be seductively fruity. Louis Martini Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon (651679) $18.99 Cabernet Sauvignon (651679) $18.99 has fresh red plum and blackberry jam aromas and flavours supported by caramelized and toasted oak notes. A round, full mouth with a fruit-focused finish at an amazing price!

Based in Italy’s Valpolicella region, Masi makes high-quality wines using native grapes and cunningly perfected methods. First made in 1964, the 2014 vintage of Masi Campofiorin (155051) $21.99 is an amazingly rich blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara. To celebrate this 50th Anniversary, the richest grapes – those that would normally go into more expensive Masi Amarone – were included. Unbelievably tasty!

Film director James Cameron and his wife Suzy Amis purchased the Comox Valley’s Beaufort Vineyards & Estate Winery in early 2014 from founding owners, grape growers and winemakers Jeff and Susan Vandermolen.

Many Vancouver Island wineries make one or two of their red wines from grapes imported from the Okanagan Valley because it is almost impossible to get the classic red wine grapes – Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah – to fully ripen in the cool, moist Island climate.

Beaufort Big Nose Red (285353) $32.99 is just such a wine, made from equal portions of Okanagan Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Aromas of black berry fruits, ripe cherries, cedar and vanilla lead into an identical medley of flavours in this round, rich and deeply satisfying red.

It may seem criminal but… Don’t be afraid to chill your reds a little if is warm out of the deck or patio while you’re barbecuing. Keep a bucket of ice water on hand!

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