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To throw a BBQ is rewarding on so many levels. You are generally outdoors enjoying the nice weather and the fresh air. It’s often an awaited get together and for many, a good excuse for a larger social event. Call over the next door neighbors or phone your friends and family for a happy, unpretentious cookout. You hang out, talk and have a laugh while enjoying the smell of smoke and grill in the air, anticipating some real good grub. Music in the background. Sun warming your face. And the cooking. The meal is not only going to be juicy, flavorful and hearty. It’s so EASY! You don’t stink up the kitchen with smoke or grease up the oven with fat and marinade. You can get real creative with your seasoning: rub, marinade or glaze is the question. Throw almost anything on the grill in terms of vegetables, roots and even fruit. And no setting the table and panic-cleaning the house beforehand…Just throw the lot on the grill and let the eager guests serve themselves. It’s hard to compete with a full-on BBQ. It is so delicious and such an altogether charming event. Here we’ll touch on all of the BBQ and wine pairing tips you need to throw a stellar get together!
Many times we pass the cool beer cans or beer bottles around and enjoy beer also later with the food on our plate later, our BBQ, but wine is absolutely an equally suitable option. Just take in account the pointers below and your wine-and-BBQ experience will be even more tasty and rewarding.
Everything goes. Well, almost…
Both white wine, rosé wine and red wine works, for the most part, beautifully with grilled, seared or smoked dishes. Practical, right? Just take a second to analyze the food on the plate. In general, light, delicate and mild cooking requires the same in the glass- light, elegant and slender wines. If the wine is too rich in body and flavor it will overwhelm the food and the pairing. Alas, the finesse and ambition is lost. On the other hand, salty, fatty and rich food can take on much more flavors and stand up to acidity and tannins- i.e a bolder, full bodied wine. If sweetness is involved, pair the dish with a fruity wine that has low to medium acidity or else the wine will appear very sour, and the dish on the other hand very sweet. If the choice is red wine, also avoid prominent, grippy tannins. When it comes to spicy AND sweet, be extra careful with tannins and acidity in your choice of wine. Spiciness is always a bit worrisome in liaison with wine. Fat and salt are friends of wine. Spice, on the other hand, is a bit of trouble. Be it in the seasoning, the rub, the marinade or the glaze- the hot and spicy enhances the acidity and also the tannins in the (red) wine making these extra tough and bitter. So please hold a bit on the chili when wine is involved. With the right reasoning in choosing your wine you can absolutely get a superb pairing.
I have picked out some great BBQ-and-wine matchings that I think are good examples and will trigger your inspiration both for cooking and for enjoying wine alongside. I hope you will find a dish and a combo, or several, you want to try! These are not overly complicated recipes and all of the below are in my eyes great combos. But don’t be afraid to experiment a bit, my suggestions are just that. Suggestions. Albeit based on experience, we all have different taste and references so there are really no set rules!
Grilled fish really spells summer, doesn’t it! With so many fish varieties and flavor combinations to choose from, the options are endless. These grilled fish dishes offers a couple of delicious examples of BBQ fish, paired with suitable types of wine.
1.Grilled cod with onion and white wine butter sauce.
Sometimes easy does it. Melt butter in skillet, add chopped onion and cook for a few minutes. Add white wine and simmer for 2 minutes. Brush your cod fillets with oil, salt and pepper. Place on a well oiled grill rack and leave for about 8 minutes. Baste with butter sauce, flip, baste/brush and cook for an additional 6-7 minutes. You want the fish to flake easily using a fork and reach an inner temperature of 145 F. Served with the rest of the butter sauce, grilled, stomp, mashed or creamed potatoes and your choice of veggies. Grilled broccoli is great.
Wine suggestion: This dish is rather soft spoken but offers both acidity from the wine in the sauce, and richness from the butter. Onion is generally difficult in combination with wine but in this case it is cooked and poses no real threat to the wine pairing. Cod is in all honesty quite neutral in flavor. I would go for a wine that mirrors the sauce and has a bit of body to meet the richness of the butter- but still with freshness and acidity to match also that component in the sauce. A zesty, fresh Semillon is a good choice since the grape also naturally produces wines with some body. Pick your Semillon either from French Bordeaux or from sunny South Africa. Iconic wine maker Boekenhoutskloof makes a wicked good one, Spier is another great producer. Yet another option is a bodacious, succulent and lightly oak-aged Chardonnay from Chile or a classic French one from southern Burgundy. If you are aiming for rosé wine, the pale but fruity, herbaceous and charming rosés from southern France, from Provence, are the sure thing.
2.Asian inspired grilled swordfish steak with ginger and lime
Marinated the fish steaks for about an hour in the fridge in a mix of honey, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and fresh lime juice. Brush with the left over sauce while cooking on oiled, hot grill. Cook for about 4 minutes on each side. Swordfish is meaty and flavorful, and here you get a deliciously tangy glaze. Served with boiled rice, sautéed spinach or pak soy. You can easily substitute the swordfish with tuna or other, meaty, fish.
Wine suggestion: This dish is both sweet, and a bit on the spicy side. A tricky but not impossible pairing. Some fruitiness in the wine is required in this instance to meet the sweetness in the concoction. Frankly even a discrete sweetness in the white wine would help the pairing as it rounds off the spice and generally is a great wine choice complimenting typical, spicy asian-style food. A dry, acidic white wine would enhance the spice and come off as very sour and tart. For said off-dry white wine I would pick a Riesling from Germany(Dr. Loosen for example), Australia(Jacob’s Creek or Grosset) or the US(Kung Fu Riesling). Another approach, I’m thinking dreamingly, would be a South African white wine from the rather unknown grape variety Bukettraube. The Western Cape producer Cederberg makes a real cool one packed with fruit, sunshine and flowers. Perhaps more of a unknown territory. But try it! Last but not least, if you go a’wandering for red wine. It is a more difficult task with the matching but just be a bit careful and you will be fine. Pick a light bodied red from the New World, steer clear from rough tannins and high acidity. Examples? Grape varieties Pinot Noir, Gamay or possibly a light bodied zinfandel.
Chicken is perfect for your cookout. Most all guests like it. It is juicy, flavorful and easy to handle. And you can find an infinite number of great recipes. Here is two that I like both for their simplicity and flavor!
3.Rosemary lemon grilled chicken
Fenomenal and easy. The butter for flavoring feature lemon zest and juice, garlic cloves, fresh rosemary, and butter. Salt, pepper. Blend thoroughly in a food processor. Separate the aromatic butter into thirds: 1/3 for marinating, 1/3 for basting, 1/3 for topping. Rub the chicken breasts with 1/3 of the seasoned butter and place on a platter, cover, and refrigerate for 3 hours. Grill on high heat 4 minutes on each side-brush with rosemary/garlic/lemon mixture. Serve topped with scoops of remaining butter, grilled leek and baked potato. Why not make some extra of that delicious butter to use also in your potato?
Wine suggestion: For a white wine pick one with body and herbaceous notes. A white Rhone wine with its down played acidity would be a great fit. A white Rioja is another option and many times a find as well as a great partner with the food here. Another favorite grape variety of mine that always performs well in the company of herbs and spice is the Austrian pride and joy Gruner Veltliner with its characteristic white pepper notes. A lovely and aromatic rosé wine like the Sauvignon Blanc Rosé from Marlborough Estate on New Zealand is truly also a great choice. When it comes to reds why not go for a fiery Cotes-du-Rhone, reflecting the region’s stunning and seemingly endless fields of rosemary, lavender and thyme. A light, flavorful Italian Langhe Nebbiolo would also be a great pairing-especially if you add some grilled mushrooms to the equation.
4. Grilled Drumsticks with Bourbon and Cherry BBQ Sauce
A fruity and bold take on barbecue with deep caramel notes, a savory backbone and a pleasant vinegar tang. A great shortcut is to start with 1 cup purchased unsweetened cherry juice instead of making from scratch.
Add said cherry liquid to a pan and bring to a boil. Stir in honey and ketchup, rice vinegar, bourbon, tomato paste, onion powder and dry mustard. Spice to your liking. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Cool. Place 1 cup sauce in a bowl; reserve. Marinate drumsticks in sauce while preheating grill to medium-high. Place drumsticks on grill, cover and cook for 8 minutes. Reduce heat and turn, and brush the drumsticks every 3 minutes for 12 minutes. Serve with the reserved sauce, french fries, grilled corn-on-the-cob and roasted carrot and turnip.
Wine suggestion: The cherry juice really calls for a red wine. I wouldn’t pick a white. If you must, go for a wine with body and poise like a pinot gris from French Alsace. But really, I rather you didn’t. If red is absolutely off the table then go for a dark rosé like the one’s from French Tavel. Great red wines to go with the cherry and spice is Tuscan Sangiovese, Valpolicella Classico, Italian oak aged Primitivo or Nero d’Avola or a Catalonian Grenache.
White and Red Meat
Regardless of what kind of meat you throw on the BBQ, there is always a way to make it shine. Be it dark or white meat, on the bone or boneless, coated with fat, exposing lovely marbling or perhaps instead a very lean piece- no matter. Just make sure you find the right way to prepare and cook it! Google is amazing as tools go and really offers you endless help and possibilities.
5. Sticky hoisin pork steaks
So good. So easy. Marinate your pork chops in plenty of rich Hoisin sauce. Genuine Hoisin sauce is a Chinese, traditional, sweet and sour bean sauce with the addition of sugar, onions and spices. Often soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar and honey are also included. It is one of the most famous condiments in China and is used for, among other things, Peking duck and some classic Chinese fish dishes. You can make your own but it is way easy to buy the finished product. Turn on the Grill on medium-high temperature. Place the Hoisin-marinated chops on the grill. Let sit a few minutes then turn, and brush with more hoisin. Repeat. Season to your liking. Meanwhile, steam rice or boil glass noodles to go with these lovely pieces of meat, and also stir fry shredded carrot, cucumber and cabbage. Add som hoisin and soy sauce also in the stir fry, and perhaps, depending on how sweet you want the dish, a dash of honey.
Wine suggestion: Also with this dish due to sweetness and spice, you need to be somewhat careful with tannins and acidity. A sun ripe American Zinfandel, a juicy Australian Shiraz, a Chilean Carmenére or a jammy Cabernet Sauvignon would work wonders.
6. Best grilled steak ever
Get yourself real tasty looking beef steaks from the butcher. Blend all ingredients for the marinade: Soy sauce, olive oil, ketchup, minced garlic, oregano and pepper. Pour the marinade over your steaks. Marinate 3 hours, turning frequently. Grill to your liking. Easy as pie!
Wine suggestion: If there is some fat on your steaks you can pick a pretty serious wine when it comes to tannins and acidity. The fat grinds down the structure of the tannins in the wine as well as rounding off the acidity. Argentinian Malbec is a natural great pairing with steak. A Rioja with some age would also be amazing, pick a Grand Reserva. Why not go for a complex Lebanese wine like the famous Chateau Musar? Splendid wines for sure with beef- try to find one with a bit of age!