Life Wine

Monday 23 April 2018

The top barbecue tipples

From wines to cocktails, our drinks expert guides you through the perfect drinks pairings for your outdoor feast

Balance is the key when matching drink to food
Balance is the key when matching drink to food
Cimarosa Zinfandel
Franciscan well
Intrigo Negromaro
la Baume Viognier
Malbec The Exquisite Co
Orpen's craft cider
Orange cocktail
Old fashioned
Ostal Cazes Rose

Liam Campbell

Matching drinks with barbecued food can be an art, a science or an intimidation depending on your attitude and on how the food is prepared. To do justice to both food and wine, balance is the key.

 Rich and heavily flavoured red meats need a full-bodied Sumo Wrestler-like rich red wine with the alcohol tipping the balance over 13.5pc. Reds from the warmer Mediterranean countries and New World work well. Whereas, lighter and whiter meats, poultry and fish with more subtle spicy flavours shine with leaner wines weighing in at 12.5pc and under in the alcohol stakes. Europe's more northern countries and regions and New Zealand are useful. Have plenty of water on standby as the best thirst quencher.

Best not to focus too much on the main ingredients of the barbecue to marry the wine. The barbecue sauce and seasoning serves as the emotional link in the relationship. For instance, chicken is usually matched with a dry white wine. However, with a Vindaloo sauce, beer is better.

Peppery and spicy sauces should find a comfortable partner with wines that have been fermented or aged in some new oak, giving a nutmeg, cinnamon or pepper element to the wine.

1) Viognier 2013, La Baume, Pay's d'Oc, France 14pc

Classic apricot perfumed aromas. Delicious orange-fleshed and ripe apricot fruity palate. Match with pork chops or kebabs and a piquant peach chutney glaze.

€12.85 at Dunnes Stores nationwide

2) L'Ostal Cazes Rosé, Languedoc, France 2014

Redcurrant fruity fragrance and flavour. Dry and refreshing with taste bud tingling acidity. Ideal with salads tossed with prawn and ribbons of smoked salmon.

€14.49 at O'Brien's nationwide (buy a second bottle for half-price at €7.25 until 31st August)

3) Zinfandel 2012, Cimarosa, Lodi, California 13.5pc [Lidl]

Good concentration of bramble fruit and a little peppery spice. Medium-bodied and harmonious, very well balanced acidity and tannin. Introduce to a Cajun chicken.

€6.99 at Lidl nationwide

4) Malbec 2013, The Exquisite Collection, Uco Valley, Argentina 14pc

Ripe berry aromas and flavours with gentle textured tannins, full-bodied and satisfying. Grill steak slicked with a smoky barbecue sauce.

€8.79 at Aldi nationwide

5) Negroamaro 2014, Intrigo, Puglia IGT, Italy 13pc

Muted red berry aromas. Fresh fruity flavours supported by moderate tannins and refreshing acidity. Medium bodied. A good all-rounder food wine.

€11.99 at SuperValu nationwide

6) Franciscan Well German Style Wheat Beer 4.7pc

Fruity and floral scents with pear drops and boiled sweets. Intense flavours of dried orange peel and a pithy invigorating finish. Serve with Mexican spicy meat dishes.

€2.49 330ml at Tesco nationwide

7) Orpen's Medium Dry 2012 Irish Craft Cider 5.3pc Dublin

Dry and crisp with freshly milled apple flavours. Elegant and balanced. Ideal with spicy sausages or cold ham and camembert cheese salad.

€2.69 330ml nationwide at selected Tesco, SuperValu, Dunnes and most independent off-licences.

BBQ drinks at a glance

● For chicken: Chardonnay from the New World's warmer countries e.g. Chile, California, South Africa and Australia.

● For sausages, hamburgers, steaks and chops: Australian Shiraz or Californian Zinfandel. Or Rhone and Languedoc reds.

● For grilled shellfish: Unoaked Chardonnay or Picpoul de Pinet.

● For grilled vegetables: Mature reds e.g. Rioja Crianza or Reserva.

● For Mediterranean herbed dishes: Try reds from southern France or Italy

● Best beer matches for barbecues: Brown ales, red ales and lagers.


Coolers are a great way to refresh without excessive alcohol inducing sleep. Mix wines with juices or soft drinks and sparkling Tonic or Soda Water.

White Port in a tumbler with three times more Tonic Water, ice and a slice of lemon.

An Orange Shamrock - Harvey's Bristol Cream, is made by blending a trinity of signature styles of sherry: Fino, Amontillado and Oloroso. Serve in a tall glass with an orange slice and a splash of freshly squeezed orange juice.


Cocktails are like plutonium - a little goes a long way. For an al fresco summer barbecue style cocktail, try Dublin restaurant Cleaver East's Signature Cocktail - white rum shaken with an elderflower liqueur, fresh lime, honey and a hint of fresh chilli served over crushed ice.

Rosemary Old Fashioned, use premium bourbon stirred with a sprig of fresh rosemary, a little brown sugar, a dash of aromatic bitters poured over ice with an orange zest spiral or a cherry.

Weekend Magazine

Life Newsletter

Our digest of the week's juiciest lifestyle titbits.

Editors Choice

Also in Life