barbecue flameBarbecues and subtle, delicate wines do not go together. To compete with the rich smells and flavours of barbecued food you need a wine with dark fruit and chocolate notes, so forget about whites and rosés – think instead of robustly-flavoured reds.

Red wines made with the red-berry tasting grape varieties of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo work best with barbecued meats. The blackberry and cherry flavours in Italian and Spanish blends of these grapes have enough strength to keep up with oily marinades and crispy cooking.

kebabThe typical slightly-burnt barbecued burger often comes topped with a fiery chilli-tomato relish. You’d think drinking a cold beer or chilled white wine with this would help soothe the tongue of excess chilli, but actually a room-temperature red wine is a better bet: your tongue feels cleansed enough for your taste buds to start registering again. Your burger will taste meaty and your red wine fruity.

Fruity tasting wines don’t happen by accident. Where grapes grow will affect a wines flavour. Warm southern Mediterranean countries tend to produce fruity wines and these typically have an alcoholic content of around 12.5 per cent. This level of alcohol gives the wine enough mouth-cleansing body without being overwhelmingly alcoholic.

red wineAmerican and Australian wines can measure a massive 14.5 per cent. Such high levels of alcohol leave a wine sickly-sweet and so intensely flavoured that it overpowers any food it meets. Not all southern-hemisphere wines contain so much alcohol. The Californian Gallo wines are typically a more manageable 10%. Read the small print on the wine bottle’s label before buying to be sure you don’t get more than you want.

This article has also appeared as Paula's Wines of the Week on