According to some Canadian research, men find the scent of grilling meat more arousing than any perfume.
Add in the heady scents of a Mourvèdre based Bandol red wine from Provence or a decent Argentinian Malbec and I suspect you could seduce just about anyone.
I know that, so far this summer, our weather has not been entirely suitable but I suspect many of you have persisted and will be bringing out the barbecue this weekend and probably over the bank holiday next weekend.
Food in the open air always seems fresher and more flavourful, but conversely wines to match this food need a bit of personality to shine through.
The punchy flavours of Albarino from Galicia work well, and don’t knock an Australian oaked Chardonnay which seems to work particularly well with spicy grilled pork fillet.
Staying in Australia a Barossa or McLaren Vale Shiraz (d’Arenberg, Nugan) will manfully stand up to any charred meat while a minty Cabernet from the Clare Valley is a more intriguing option.
The smoke in barbecue food can be matched with the smoky flavours found in Malbec and the wines of the Rhone (both North and South). From Italy try Barbera d’Alba and the spicy rich wines of Puglia (eg, Salice Salentino).
As usual Spain offers lots of options but be adventurous and seek out obscure regional wines based on grapes you don’t know such as Bobal and Mencia.
Wine-based cocktails such as a Bellini are always a hit — equal parts white peach pulp and Prosecco — or try a Rossini which replaces the peach with strawberries.
For something completely different try a white Port served over ice or mixed with tonic and a slice of lemon.
Fino Sherry is another perfect out-door drink, and a quick search on the Internet will find you all kinds of sherry based cocktails — try mixing equal parts Noilly Prat and Tio Pepe with a dash of Angostura Bitters.
Sometimes also you need a light thirst quenching wine such as a Muscadet or a light Rosé but both the examples I recommend below have a little bit more going on.
BEST VALUE UNDER €15
Urlár Sauvignon Blanc, Gladstone, New Zealand — €12.99 (was €17.99)
Urlár wines as you might expect have a Celtic connection (urlár as in “earth” rather than floor). Former Scottish sheep farmer Angus Thomson is growing grapes organically and bio-dynamically in Gladstone on the slightly warmer North Island. Ripe gooseberry fruits with a tropical edges and a clean rich mineral finish — try with marinated BBQ pork ribs.
Dom de la Chauviniere Muscadet, Loire, France — €13.99
Muscadet is slowly coming back into fashion having spent much of the past decade absent from shelves.
This light crisp wine is made for summer drinking and won’t tax your brain cells, it just delivers clean crisp citrus fruits on the nose and mineral freshness on the palate. Perfect with a big bowl of mussels or with grilled fish.
Genio y Figura Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain — €15
Stockists: Dunnes Store, O’Donovans, JJ O’Driscolls,Ballinlough
This was one of the wines I presented at the recent Albarino tasting in L’Atitude 51. Albarino is a difficult grape to grow so it is rare to find a decent one under €15.
Bright apple and stone fruit aromas, rich and fruity on front palate, lemon fresh acidity on the finish. Works well with spicy food as well as barbecue.
BEST VALUE OVER €15
Rosa Dei Masi Veneto IGT, Italy — €17.49
Stockists: Bradleys, Nth Main St, O’Driscolls, Ballinlough, Half-Door, Bandon, JD O’Sullivan, Kenmare, Next Door Off Licences, and others
Masi take their rosé seriously unlike many other producers, even going so far as to dry some of the grapes for this in the same way they do for Amarone or Ripassa red wines.
A subtle light pink colour with raspberry and strawberry aromas and a soft fruitiness on the middle palate.
Martin Codax Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain — €17.95
Stockists: JJ O’Driscolls, Kingdom Stores Tralee, O’Driscolls Cahirciveen, O’Briens, Ardkeen Stores, Redmonds Ranelagh
This was the first Albarino most Irish people tasted (including myself) and it has long been a favourite in the Irish market.
This wine is packed with aromatic apricot aromas and yet retains a pure clean stone-washed minerality on the palate. Try with Asian food and of course BBQ.
Domaine Tempier Bandol 2012, Provence, France — €34.99
Stockist: Karwigs Carrigaline – www.karwigwines.ie
If you are having a special barbecue or summer dinner party this is my top recommendation — be warned however once you taste it you may not want to drink anything else.
One of the great wine estates in one of France’s great wine regions — plums, liquorice and cherry aromas, ripe smooth tannins and lingering supple fruit. Perfect for grilled lamb.
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