What wine should you drink at a barbecue ?

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Text: Chandra Kurt Photos: Gian Vaitl

Chandra's Cooking with Wine

Drinking wine outdoors is a special experience, particularly in a garden where you can wander freely. For once, the relaxed atmosphere takes precedence over the normally serious business of wine tasting.  

If I could, I would light the barbecue every day of summer, and grill up some vegetables, fish or meat. There is something both exciting and archaic about this style of cooking in my mind. When I need to select a wine in summer to drink with a meal, my criteria are completely different than in winter. I go for fresh, light vintages, in contrast to barbecue grills, which are burnt and often greasy. When the thermometer goes over 25 degrees, your taste buds can soon get tired of strong wines matured in a barrel, while in winter, they are much more drinkable and give off a welcome warmth. Of course you can also drink them in summer, but if you want the evening to last as long as possible, you're better off serving lighter wines, either red or white.  

The right choice 

How can we recognise summer wines, good for holidays or for drinking with barbecues, for example? Well, they can be distinguished by various criteria, such as the grape variety, the origin and the production method. Lighter grape varieties include Pinot Noir, Humagne Rouge and Gamay for red wine, and Riesling x Sylvaner, Chasselas, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris for white wines. Conversely, you can forget Malbec, Diolinoir and Viognier, which produce rather opulent wines. Of course, wine sellers and retailers also get started early with promoting summer wines. 

It's better to go for vintages that are matured in metal vats. And if you still prefer "barrel" wines, make sure they are not too woody. In summer, white wines should always be served cold. If the fridge is too far away and the temperature is over 23 degrees, I get a bucket (any kind will do) and fill it with water and ice. You can just leave the bottles in it to keep the wine nice and cold. You can also put the bottles in a wine cooler that has been previously placed in the freezer compartment, a very practical solution. And don't forget that red wine should also be served cooler in summer than in winter. 

Small glasses 

If you're looking for a wine to go with practically any summer dish that can also be drunk alone, I recommend a rosé, whether it's an Oeil-de-Perdrix, a Dôle Blanche (although some purists consider it to be white), or even a Gamay or Merlot rosé. You can taste them as you watch your barbecues cook. You'll see how delicious they are. If you plan to eat in the garden or on the veranda, I don't advise you to use your biggest or most expensive glasses, for reasons of space, of course, but also because they are too solemn for a really relaxed atmosphere. 
A final tip for those summer evenings: always provide lots of water. As the night goes on, there is more of a risk of having one too many. Personally I stick to a simple basic rule: a glass of water for every glass of wine.