Great Wines For BBQs

By / Magazine / June 4th, 2012 / 2

My husband is a barbecue fanatic, even in the winter. Since he likes to keep things simple, is there a good all-purpose wine that will match with just about anything he might grill?

You have to love the dedication. If I raise the lid on my gas-fired girl more than a half dozen times during the summer I consider myself lucky. That said; I have to admit that more and more folks seem to dig making barbecue a way of culinary life no matter how frightful the weather outside grows.

I assume by “simple” that you mean hubby digs himself a hotdog or hamburger more often than he does a fat juicy steak. No worries. A good all-purpose wine will work its magic on the whole menu no matter how laidback or elaborate.


My favourite grill mate is something made with Shiraz. The red grape is a brooding, deep-fruited wonder at best and appealingly candied at worst. With black spices and dark berry flavours it’s hard to go wrong with a French version from the northern Rhône region (the grape’s original home) or a structured, jam-infused Aussie creation from one of the better producers from Down Under.

A good red fallback position is Merlot. Sure, it might be a bit cliché to suggest the most balanced, juicy grape style to match barbecue fare but the bright and mouth-filling berry fruit of a Californian, Chilean or Italian version is classically outdoorsy because it works.

A New World Pinot Noir is choice number three. Mellow, well rounded and, when made well, thick and chewy; it’s more than grape enough to wrestle any condiment-laden backyard fast food menu.

On the white side I still like me a Riesling but have found a place in my cold heart for Sauvignon Blanc when I hover over the coals. New Zealand styles tend to be too zingy and clash with the cornucopia of flavours found under a bun. I like a nice Bordeaux white (which softens the SB’s bite with a touch of the Sémillon grape) or straight-ahead version from South America.


Fresh, funny and down-to-earth, Peter Rockwell is the everyman's wine writer. Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia he's worked in the liquor industry for over 30 years and has written about wine, spirits & beer since graduating from the School of Journalism at the University of King's College in 1986. His reviews and feature articles have been published in Tidings, Vines, Occasions, Where and on to name a few; he has been a weekly on-air wine feature columnist for both CBC-TV and Global Television and his wine column 'Liquid Assets' appeared weekly in two of Nova Scotia's daily newspapers, 'The Halifax Daily News' and 'The Cape Breton Post.' Today Peter's irreverent answer man column 'Bon Vivant' appears each month in Tidings Magazine and his weekly 'Liquid Assets' column is published across Canada in editions of the METRO newspaper. When not drinking at home, and at work, Peter travels the globe looking for something to fill his glass and put into words.

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