Sizzling wines for the BBQ

It’s time to break out the barbecue and enjoy some delicious food and wine, says Katie Gardner of Birmingham Wine School 

When it comes to pairing wine with your BBQ food there are a few general rules to keep in mind. Firstly, consider the intensity of the dish. If you’re grilling a rich, fatty cut of meat, such as a rib-eye steak, then a full-bodied wine like Malbec is a great option. If you’re grilling lighter meats such as chicken, or fish, then a crisp, fresh white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling, may be a better choice.

Also consider the seasoning or rub. If your flavours are spicy, you might want to go for a wine with a touch of sweetness to balance it. If you have aromatic flavours then you need a wine that will match up to it. If you’re a fan of red meat, then a Malbec is an excellent choice. This wine is full-bodied and has plenty of tannins, making it a great pairing for rich, smoky flavours. Malbec is also a versatile wine that can complement a variety of different meats, including beef, lamb, and even pork.


Not all Malbec wines were created equally however. It started in the southwest of France in a region called Cahors, and is also used as a minor blending grape in the red wines of Bordeaux. It made its way over to Argentina and is now one of the country’s most famous exports (well, maybe after Messi!). The warm, dry climate of Mendoza is perfectly suited to the Malbec grape and the altitude of the Andes helps to keep the grapes cool for balance.

For those who prefer white wine, Sauvignon Blanc is a great option for a summer BBQ. It’s a crisp and refreshing style with plenty of acidity that can help cut through the richness of grilled meats like chicken and pork as well as summer salads. It is also a very aromatic style which can work well with Thai-inspired flavours like sweet chilli, ginger and coriander. The Loire Valley in France is home to some of the most prestigious wines made from this grape, including Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume, but you can also pick up some better-priced examples from Touraine. Try a glass with some grilled halloumi skewers for a match made in heaven!


Rosé is the quintessential summer wine, and there’s no better pairing for a summer BBQ than a Provence Rosé. This wine is light and refreshing, with plenty of fruit flavours that can complement a variety of different dishes and most importantly, dry! When it comes to pairing Provence Rosé with food, think pink.

It’s a perfect pairing for grilled seafood, such as prawns or salmon but it can also work just as well with grilled veggies and salads. Look for a bottle from the Côtes de Provence region of France, which is the birthplace of this iconic wine, but there are some bargain copycat styles to be found as well from the broader Mediterranean region.

If you’re looking for a red wine that’s a bit lighter than a Malbec, then Pinot Noir is an excellent choice for your summer BBQ. You can lightly chill it down to between 10-15C to bring out the fruity flavours and highlight the fresh acidity of the wine. New World examples are more medium-bodied and have a silky texture that can complement grilled chicken or pork ribs. Pinot Noir has a bright juicy red fruit flavours that pair well with grilled vegetables and salads.


Catena Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina – £13.99 or £9.99 mix six, Majestic

A textbook Malbec from the legendary Catena family. Rich soft plum flavours and smooth tannins. Perfect with a juicy burger!

Taste The Difference Touraine Sauvignon Blanc, Loire Valley, France – £9, Sainsburys

Vibrant green apple, lime and gooseberry flavours with a twist of acidity. The perfect foil to lighter meats or a salad with some vinaigrette.

Mirabeau Pure Rosé, Provence, France – £15.99, Waitrose

Dry with strawberry and raspberry notes and a hint of rhubarb. This wine has a lovely texture which will go perfectly with seafood.

Tesco Finest Central Otago Pinot Noir, New Zealand – £13, Tesco

Possibly the most powerful expression of Pinot Noir from some of the world’s most southerly vineyards. Bright, juicy cherry flavours with a balanced acidity and smooth tannins. Lightly chill and serve with BBQ ribs.

Birmingham Wine School is an independent wine education company that offers fun informal wine tasting events and Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) courses online, in Birmingham and Warwick. For more information contact Katie Gardner on 0121 270 7359 or visit