Summer's coming, apparently, so it is time to think about scrubbing down the rusty BBQ grill, dig out the garden furniture from the back of the shed while avoiding the gargantuan carnivorous spiders (that seem only to live in the back of sheds). BBQs in Ireland, with the best will in the World, tend to be lastminute affairs. The heatwave of 13°c with a chance of cloud next weekend is manna from heaven for Irishmen the length and breadth of the country. In our house my wife does all the graft, prep, slicing, chopping, marinating and hard work, while I stand by the BBQ apron-attired, eyes red from smoke, spatula in one hand, glass of red in the other, calling for plates and extra fire-lighters. Tending anything ablaze is a fundamental male role since we emerged from the cave. “We’re going gas this summer”, she says. “And you’re on clean-up …. where’s the gin?” I jest, of course. None of this is really true. But it does give a flavour of how a BBQ which seems such a fun, easy, event can create havoc in the garden, chaos in the kitchen, even though it’s meant to be an outdoor gig. With all this in mind, the fun part, which is eating and enjoying wine with family and friends, isn’t complicated. But picking the right wines can make it even better. BBQ food, whether it’s flesh, fish, fowl or veg is going to be strong and intensely flavoured, smoky, caramelised. Like with like is the golden rule. Nothing too fine, too delicate or too expensive, remember you’re outdoors (if the rain holds off), nuance and refinement are indoor pursuits. Below we’ve listed wines that we think will work wonders with all the various culinary delights you can throw on your BBQ. They can be bought in our Wine Store in Loughlinstown or on our website (free delivery nationwide).
The famous thick-skinned grape from Galicia in northwest Spain on the Atlantic seaboard, offers plenty of delicious apricot and peach fruit with oodles of zesty citrus crunch on the finish. This will work very well with anything from the sea and will stand up to garlic, chilli and any other big flavours. Stuffed peppers, charred corn-on-the-cob are a particular favourite of mine as accompaniments.
One of our new wines from western Sicily. A massive hit with our customers at the in-store tasting bar since its arrival in early April. Light in alcohol but big in conference pear fruit flavour, with a gorgeous texture and chalky mouthfeel. The length is also very impressive for a wine at this price. Teriyaki salmon, garlic prawns or tuna steaks will work well with this wonderful organic wine.
This wonderful white (left) is worth seeking out. Rich, complex and full of overripe pear fruit, grapefruit and citrus flavours, a lick of honey and a slatey acidity - delicate and powerful all at once. This white works with just about any type of food.
With a dull boring label, we always have to push this wine a little harder than many others. But, as we all know, it’s what’s inside that really counts. From the d’Abruzzo region on the Adriatic coast of Italy, this Pecorino is a stunningly well-balanced wine. On first sip it is rich and oily with flavours of pineapple and lavender. Then the lemon acidity comes piercing through the opulence bringing order and balance to the whole affair. A cult wine with many of our staff, it punches well above its weight and offers excellent value. Pair with a Salad Niçoise, grilled mackerel fillets or a mango and avocado salad.
We have a wide range of Rosés available, however Bois de Fées Coteaux d’Aix en Provence 2020, 13.5%, €25, aka Forest of the Fairies, is a gem of a wine. From Aix en Provence, it’s the top wine from Domaine Campanets. organic, hand-harvested, bone dry with light lean flavours of red berries, strawberries and a subtle touch of peach and stone fruit. There is a lovely note of petrichor on the nose too, which just enhances the lazy summery vibe of this wine. Bananas in blankets is de rigueur here, (that’s a chunk of banana wrapped in a streaky rasher held together with a cocktail stick, umami heaven).
A huge hit with our regular customers, many buy it by the six-pack simply because in terms of value and quality it packs a hefty punch. Super ripe fruits, juicy, gentle tannins make this a great all-rounder for outdoor dining. Garlic and rosemary lamb cutlets or a serious quality burger will enhance this red and vice-versa. If there’s one no-brainer red wine we offer (and believe me we do offer a lot more!) then it’s this.
From Cataluña in the Penedes region, south of Barcelona, comes this exotic creature. To my mind the shorthand for this wine is Spanish Beaujolais. Organically farmed local Garnatxa (Grenache) is vinified using techniques pioneered in Beaujolais. The result, never mind the technique, is a ripe juicy low-tannin fruit bomb. Flavours of damsons, dark cherry and Bazooka Joe bubble gum (if you know, you know). There’s enough fruit and acidity here to cut through the strongest of BBQ sauces. Ideally serve with rib-eye or striploin, but in my experience, it works wonders with BBQed whole salmon or duck breasts.
If ever there was a stark example of the diverse styles that can be achieved using the Garnatxa grape, this velvety, soft, silk-textured Pinot Noir-esq red is a wonderful counterpoint to the Mont Rubi Black. Also from Catalonia, in a region near Tarragona, Monsant is a rising star in the Spanish wine pantheon. Biodynamically farmed and vinified, this red is aged in old oak barrels for over a year, which gives the wine an extraordinary texture and mouthfeel. Reminiscent of an Oregon Pinot Noir, with less body and alcohol, the wine is elegant and refined, with flavours of strawberry, caramelised meringue base and red cherry. Try with glazed halloumi skewers. Mmmm.