The Honest Grapes BBQ FAQ

It's National Barbecue Week, so we're serving up answers to the questions you've thrown our way about what wines to drink when the sun's out, the apron's on, and the meat is ever so slightly burnt...

Q: I’m hosting a barbecue for this weekend for x number of friends. How much wine should I have in the house?

A: Firstly, we must encourage you to drink (and serve your guests) responsibly in line with Drink Aware guidelines. Secondly, barbecues often involve that great unknown: beer drinkers. Thirdly, you know your guests better than us, so you may want to slightly adjust based on your knowledge of their drinking habits. All that said, if you allow between half and three-quarters of  a bottle per person, you should keep everyone comfortably quaffing for the afternoon (and have unopened bottle or two for another sunny day).
Q: I’m putting a classic barbecue meat feast on the grill – sausages, steaks and burgers. What wine is best?
Rioja_BBQA: But how are you marinating the meat? And are you serving a classic banger or spicy chorizo? And will cheese be added to the burger in the bun? And what sauces are you putting on the table?
Given the sheer range of flavours and textures on a typical barbecue plate, being too precious about matching meat and wine flavours could get painful. We recommend sticking with a few bottles of a fresh, approachable and balanced red like an easy drinking Rioja.
Q: We’re only a small group, but I’m going to try and not burn both chicken and red meat. Do I have to provide both red and white wines?

A: Once again, think about your friends’ known drinking preferences, but a Merlot can work just as well with a barbecue chicken or sausage. Many of the Merlots coming out of Chile and other New World countries can be interesting, enjoyable and satisfying glassful.  
Q: What about the vegetarians?
viognier_BBQA: We’re going to assume that you’re serving your veggie friends grilled vegetables, halloumi and maybe throwing the occasional meat-free sausage on the grill.
Just like with the meat eaters, that’s a lot of flavours to try and match a wine with, so versatility is key here. A well-made Viognier will good acidity and balance in the mouth – matching a variety of flavours and cutting through any overwhelming cheese or creamy sauces.
Q: I’m hosting the World’s Healthiest Barbecue - all grilled white fish and simple salads. Doesn’t mean we don’t want to sneak in a sneaky couple of wines, though. How should we fill our glasses?

A: Ah, the plainness of the food means you can do something a little bit interesting with the wine. A great Chenin Blanc will offer richness, acidity, and complexity, plus enough fruit flavours to lift a plain meal. It’s also interesting enough to serve as an apéritif to help get your guests chatting whilst they’re waiting for you to figure out how to light the grill…
Q: OK, this “balance” and “approachability” talk is all well and good, but I’d actually like to serve something a bit unexpected alongside the smoke and the sunshine. What would you recommend?
sherry_BBQA: What about a dry sherry? It’s inextricably linked to long afternoons with elderly relatives for many of us, but it can also be a terrific food wine – especially if you’re warming your guests up with charcuterie, cheese or calamari before the main event.
Q: I’ve been invited to a barbecue, and have no idea what they’re grilling. What sort of wine should I bring along?

A: Here is one of the great secrets of food and wine matching: Champagne or English Sparkling Wine. Not only will it guarantee your host serves you the choicest cuts of meat from the grill, but it also works beautifully with foods as varied as chicken, fish and custardy, creamy desserts
Q: Er, I don’t really feel like shopping for all these wines. You lot are meant to be the wine experts. Can’t you just put it together for me?

A: Well, if you insist – how about our Summer Barbecue Case? It’s a mixed half dozen, with a nice mix of red, white and sherry. BBQ_mixed_case