Best Wines for BBQ

Posted by: samy May 20, 2016 No Comments
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IMG_1333It’s technically still spring, but the May long weekend is really the unofficial start to summer.

City dwellers are scurrying up the 400 like rats from a sinking ship, headed to cottage country to launch boats, put in docks and dust off winter-sleepy cabins for summer time fun in the sun.

Can you tell we’re pumped?

As BBQ’s fire up across the Muskokas, and cottage owners’ friend base suddenly triples in size, the dockside parties and backyard cookouts are what any true-blue (true-red?) Canadian will be doing this weekend.

As we stoke the fires for our dinner, here are some things we keep in mind for our favourite flame-broiled and charcoal-charred meals.

Replace beer with sparkling wine

IMG_0273Generally speaking any food you have with beer, a sparkling will pair just as easily. Beer is a natural go to for cookouts because the bubbles and acidity cleanse your palate of fatty meats, and have a tendency to to calm spicy foods. The same thing happens with sparkling wine.

You can chill red

IMG_0747In fact, we recommend it. There’s a reason why wine nerds will refer to lighter Gamays or fruity Pinot Noirs as “picnic” wines. Served not cold, but lightly chilled (think putting it in the fridge for 10 or 15 minutes before serving), these cool reds work wonders with easy going barbecue fare like burgers and ribs.

Rosé to the Rescue

IMG_4404Our love for pink wine borders on obsessive, but that’s because it is so darned flexible. With fruity flavours and higher acid, a good quality, dry rosé can pair with everything from seafood to turkey burgers to salmon to ribs. And when there’s lots of flavours happening on one plate (think burgers with all the condiments and a side of coleslaw) rosé will be there for you when others just can’t. Boom.

Wine Pairings for BBQ Bliss


Courtney has a killer recipe for pork ribs that involves a multi spiced dry rub and two-day marinade. But that’s all she’ll say about it. The deliciously rich meat is smokey and sweet with just the right amount of toasty char and we totally dig peppery northern Rhône reds, or fuller bodied Beaujolais Crus to pair. The tannins work beautifully with the fat and the spice in the wine can handle the spice in the dish.

We like: Pierre Amadieu Romane-Machotte Gigondas, Rhône, France $24.95 Vintages 17400


Fatty, smokey and full of flavour, beef brisket is a great choice for your California Cab lovers out there. A plush wine with lots of sweet, ripe fruit flavour and  just enough tannin to bite into the rich meat brisket and cab is a darn-near perfect pairing.

We like:  William Hill Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast, California, USA 2013 $21.95 Vintages 453647


Jalapeno Cheese Burger #2No matter if it’s beef, turkey or veggie burgers, chances are good it’s the condiments that will dictate the pairing. Cheese, onions, hot peppers, mustard … the choices are quite literally endless with a cacophony of bursting flavours, so refer to Tip 3 above and reach for rosé.

We like: Megalomaniac “Pink Slip” Rosé, VQA Niagara Peninsula, ON 2015 $19.95 Vintages 85126


Is there anything more iconic of summer cuisine than an al fresco steak dinner paired to a complex and full bodied red wine? Probably not. You have lots of choices depending on the cut and how well you like your steak done, but we like the intrigue of a Super Tuscan.

We like: Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi Tenuta di Castiglioni, Tuscany, Italy 2013 $21.95 Vintages 145920


Being good German girls, we’ve never met a sausage we didn’t like. Typically spicy and rich with varying levels of heat a rosé would work well here, but so would a fruit forward and lightly spicy Gamay.

We like: 13th Street Gamay Noir Niagara Peninsula, ON 2013 $19.95 Vintages 177824

Rosé goes very well with most barbecued foods


Corn really comes into season in Ontario in August, but you can still find decent imports in the supermarket. Crisp and sweet and drizzled in melted butter, it’s a no-brainer pairing with lightly oaked Chardonnay.

We like: Cuvée Joseph Talmard Mâcon Chardonnay, Burgundy, France 2014 $16.95 Vintages 392712 

Vegetable kabobs

Zucchini, bells peppers, onions and mushrooms all can pair individually to specific wines, but combined you’ll want a wine with a herbal note, and with the roasted char of the grill also something with a touch of oak.

We like: Robert Mondavi Fumé Blanc, Napa Valley, California, USA 2014 $22.95 Vintages 221887


two glasses of chardonnayBarbecued chicken becomes richer and weightier with grilling as it takes on a charred, roasted flavour. Light reds like Côtes du Rhône or Beaujolais are certainly an option, as is a classic oaked Chardonnay pairing.

We like: Kim Crawford “Wild Grace” Small Parcels Chardonnay, Hawkes Bay, North Island, New Zealand 2013 $24.95 Vintages 378604


The old adage “red with meat, white with fish” goes out the window here as salmon’s fleshy firmness has a meaty quality that famously works with reds like Pinot Noir. We say, it’s (almost) summer time and the living is easy, so why fix what ain’t broken?

We like: Domaine Queylus “Tradition” Pinot Noir, VQA Niagara Peninsula, ON 2012 $29.95 Vintages 392738 


Crab boils, lobster bakes, prawn festivals … fresh summer seafood is a yummy, yummy treat – especially when feasting lakeside with the sounds of water lapping against the dock and the view of the sun setting over Lake Rosseau. Seafood is both rich and sweet, yet light and delicate. The sauce, seasoning and preparation will ultimately determine the best wine pairing, but with simply grilled seafood a cold and crisp bubbly is top notch.

We like: Bailly LaPierre Reserve Brut Cremant de Bourgogne NV $19.95 Vintages 991562



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