“The discovery of a wine is of greater moment than the discovery of a constellation. The universe is too full of stars” – Benjamin Franklin.

I’VE been dusting off the barbecue in anticipation of the annual opportunity to serve up some horribly burnt meat adorned with a token lettuce leaf to pacify my healthy-eating conscience.

Barbecues are getting fancy these days, though, with many of them adding smoking units to add extra flavour to the napalmed burgers so it adds to the complications when trying to select the perfect wine.

My mother-in-law exacerbates the problem by skewering cuts of chicken and pork on wooden sticks, to which she adds peppers, mushrooms and whatever else she can find that hasn’t moved in the previous ten minutes. Worse, she insists on taking up valuable meat space in the barbie for jacket potatoes! Seriously folks, when did the manly art of roasting the lower species get so complicated?

The knack is to pick a red or white (or both) that can cover all your embarrassments in the burning department, and that can cope with all the mother-in-law’s colourful adornments, and you will be delighted to learn that I’ve dedicated the last few summers to just that task.

Riesling is one of the best barbie wines because the fruity aromas, refreshing acid and the full mouth feel can cope with most of the worst crimes you can commit with the meat, but serve them chilled to the bone for best effect. I’ve found the best ones tend to be from the New World, especially New Zealand unless you have £60 to blow on a top-end German.

If you’re lucky enough to get a hold of some fresh langoustines to thrown on the fire, a cool Riesling becomes your best friend. If you cant find a decent Kiwi Riesling you can always substitute for a Gewurztraminer from Australia or Alsace.

Red wines are much more at home with barbecued food though, with Cabernet Sauvignon or Californian Zinfandel topping my list. Both styles offer a good depth of soft, creamy fruits that envelop the food in a kind of textured bear hug, helping you to forget just how bad you are with an open flame. All we need now is the sun!


  • Chocolate Box Cabernet, Barossa Valley: Simply gorgeous, with rich cassis flavours, a luxuriant texture and a creamy vanilla finish. Seriously, don’t go near an open flame with a burger unless you have one of these close to hand. Richardson’s of Whitehaven £15.99.
  • Dandelion Vineyard Cabernet, Barossa Valley: Blueberries, blackberries, plums and milk chocolate all combine to create a rich smooth wine with hints of cedar wood on the finish. Shills of Cockermouth £14.