Roberto Sarotto Dolcetto Angeli, Piedmont, Italy 2020 (from £14.29, bcfw.co.uk; bottleapostle.com; lovecheese.co.uk) Until the bank holiday, we’re in barbecue high season, a fact that is obvious not only from the persistent whiff of charcoal on the air on any given warm evening, but also by the preponderance of products being sold specifically for barbecue usage. Wine sellers are particularly prone to this. Red wines that were advertised for their winter-warming qualities until well into the spring, are repositioned almost overnight as “perfect barbecue bottles” come summer. Never mind that this much-coveted status is a bit of an illusion: when you think about the range of food on offer at a barbecue– all those different marinades and salads never mind the various protein sources – a single wine style is hardly likely to match them all. That said, the type of fruity robust red that is generally marketed as a barbecue bottle really is good with some barbecue staples: this vividly coloured and flavoured (dark juicy cherries) northern Italian red, for example, goes so well with a properly meaty, sauce-slathered, smoky beef burger.
Kloster Eberbach Riesling Trocken, Rheingau, Germany 2019 (from £14.99, rannochscott.co.uk; kwoff.co.uk) Although you’ll also find the odd rosé earning the “barbecue wine” moniker alongside the serried ranks of reds – usually those that are darker in hue and flavour than the currently fashionable pale, pastel pinks of Provence and their imitators – it’s rare indeed that you’ll find a white wine sold as such. Which is a bit odd when you consider that a barbecue generally features plenty of food that many of us would normally eat with a white wine: fish, seafood, chicken, even halloumi. As with the reds, and for the same reasons, I don’t think it makes much sense to talk of a generic barbecue white. But I do find that a good dry riesling will meet many of my requirements: the mouthwatering mix of steeliness, peachy fruit and limey citrus you find in a classic German trocken example such as Tesco Finest Steep Slopes Riesling (£7) or Kloster Eberbach’s graceful estate bottling is just so good at keeping the palate fresh and invigorated, and can cope with a little bit of spicy heat, too.
Cidre Breton Brut Traditionnel (£4.75, 1l, oddbins.com) The most popular drink at most barbecues I’ve attended in the past few summers is the most popular drink at every other gathering I’ve been to. Whether inside or outside, in spring, summer autumn or winter: it’s prosecco. But even those of us who are a bit sniffy about the style – and who like to make a fuss of picking the right drink for the right dish – have to admit this is a choice that can make sense: the slight sweetness, pear juiciness and cream soda softness of Morrisons The Best Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco (£8) is very good with the kind of thing that tends to come off the barbecue first: salmon or prawns in a lightly spicy marinade (although it’s probably best of all as an end of meal light and summery alternative to dessert wine). Another surprisingly successful (for me at least) barbecue choice at a recent barbecue I went to was a cloudy Breton cider. Robustly apple flavoured and tangy like a chutney, it was particularly good with meaty pork sausages.