The Wine Buff

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Frequently we are asked for advice on what wine to have with what food, there are guidelines to match strong food flavours with rich full bodied wines and lighter delicate food with an equivalently light wine, but these are just guidelines; have the wine that you like. There is no point ruining a lovely meal by forcing yourself to have a wine that you are not going to enjoy, after all we in The Wine Buff always say that there really are only two kinds of wine in the world – those you like and those you don’t.

What the guidelines aim to do is to create a balance between what is on your plate and what is in your glass, you don’t want one to overpower the other, you should aim to complement. We have all heard the advice that you should have white with white meat and red with red meat. But when you start to consider the flavours of the food rather than simply the colours, then you find you will get closer to the correct match.

In this country we aren’t blessed with the weather, but with any glimpse of sunshine the BBQ comes out, so let’s have a look at what would be the best wines to have when the garden furniture is taken out of storage, the parasols are opened and the charcoals are hot.

If the main offerings from the grill are not your thing, but you instead prefer to load up with salads with some light cheese, perhaps some lightly seasoned chicken or white fish, or even some pasta, then you would look for a light refreshing wine. A Pinot Grigio or Albarino would be an ideal accompaniment.

Sometimes the food accompanying the BBQ can be very appealing, such as a chicken Caesar salad or some smoked fish; there could be great sauces and pesto, and don’t even mention garlic bread or focaccia. You are now looking at some richer elements to enhance what is largely a delicate meal. You now need to consider the entirety of what is on your plate and what will stand out; the garlic and pesto will bring a kick, while the texture will come from the chicken and fish. I would consider a Chardonnay or Chenin Blanc perfect for this plate of food: smooth with good flavours.

Mostly it is what you decide to add to the primary food offering that will determine what you taste on your palate. If you had a spring onion salad, perhaps some avocado or asparagus, you now have some definite flavours. The spicy chicken wings might sneak onto the side of the plate or the cheese board could have some goats’ cheese. You now have some sharp textures to deal with so the light and smooth wines previously discussed would be lost. Consider the citric acidity of a Sauvignon Blanc or the sharp flavour of a dry Riesling here and they won’t let you down.

The guidance of white with white, red with red we have previously discussed but what about pink? When the salads become a little more exotic and aubergine, beetroot or red pepper appear, when the meat includes lightly grilled prawns, salmon or thinly sliced cold meats and you might have a tomato based sauce now, where do you go? Well pink with pink will also generally hold true, so select a medium dry Rose to have the flavoursome and visual impact that is desired.

All of the white and rose wines are best served slightly chilled, too cold and the flavour of the wine is lost

As the BBQ flavours build and the beef and lamb is cooked with roasted vegetables; the cheese board has mature cheddars with a bonus offering of chorizo, now you need to start considering red wines. There will be an explosion of flavours so you need a wine to be strong enough to hold its own but also not to dominate. Consider the fuller flavours of a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Chianti if you want that complimentary longer lasting texture with your food.

If the grilled meats start to include game meats such as venison or even one of my favourites, ostrich, then you are in the realm of sitting back, putting the feet up and watching the world go by with a wine to do the meat justice. New world wines such as a Malbec, Shiraz or Pinotage would be perfect – they are rich, full of flavour and won’t be bullied by the meat.

Red wines are designed to be served at room temperature, this is not 20 o, but rather at 16 o-18 o, so consider this when you have your wine outside, potentially in the sun. If possible, store it in a cool place (not a fridge), open it at least a half an hour before consuming and let it breath and slowly rise to the desired temperature, and finally try to keep it out of sunlight when open. Enjoy the summer and most of all, enjoy your wine.

All of the wines mentioned in this article and many more are available in our premises in Portarlington – do call in and mention this article for a discount on your purchase.

The Wine Buff, Main Street, Portarlington, Co. Laois
057 8643839

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