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Hot summer wine: what sommeliers suggest for barbecues and grilling

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Summertime is about many things: outdoor activities, music festivals, sports, holidays, celebrations, and gatherings. For foodies, summer signals the start of barbecue season. It’s nothing fancy, just friends and family gathering in the backyard or on the rooftop, sharing delicious food and memorable moments. Like any good gathering, a barbecue isn’t complete without the perfect drinks. While cold beer is a common choice, wine lovers may ask: what’s the best wine for a summer barbecue? Sylvia Ba looks at the choices
What sommeliers would recommend
Whether you are hosting a barbecue party or attending one but wonder what wine to serve or bring, both traditional human sommeliers and innovative AI sommeliers like VinoVoss, generally recommend bold reds for barbecue. Grenache, syrah, and GSM (grenache, syrah, mourvedre blends) are at the top of the list for pairing with barbecue foods. The rich flavours of charred meat, combined with spices, harmonize beautifully with fruity, round red wines that have spicy, smoky, or oaky notes. Zinfandel or primitivo pair wonderfully with caramelized foods, while other bold reds like Malbec, oaked tempranillo, or a Bordeaux blend are also popular choices.
Summer wine and barbecue: an unlikely pair?
From a food and wine pairing perspective, bold reds are indeed suitable for barbecue. However, bold reds can taste heavy and often have high alcohol content, which might not be the best fit for hot summer days. This is why many people opt for cold beer instead. In summer, we crave refreshing white wines to cool us down, but does that mean summer wines and barbecue are incompatible? The answer is no. There are plenty of summer wines that pair perfectly with barbecue.

Pork-based barbecue favourites like sausages and short ribs, seasoned with flavourful spices, not only pair well with red wines like grenache, syrah, or zinfandel but also shine with high-acidity white wines like riesling and grüner veltliner. The acidity cuts through the grease and adds freshness. Riesling is known to complement savoury sauces, while grüner veltliner, with its herbaceous, white pepper notes, is perfect for sausages. In their home countries, riesling and grüner veltliner are preferred wines for pork-based German and Austrian cuisine. Additionally, these high-acidity white wines, by nature, pair well with vegetables.
All-rounder barbecue wines
If you’re concerned about going to extremes between bold reds and refreshing whites, don’t worry. There are versatile barbecue wines for your summer gatherings. Barbecue covers a range of foods from vegetables to mushrooms, from fish to meat skewers, so it’s ideal to have a master solution.
Light-bodied, chillable reds
If bold reds feel too heavy, light-bodied red wines are perfect summer reds. Wines like Gamay, certain pinot noirs, Loire Valley cabernet franc, frappato, schiava, and many carbonic or semi-carbonic maceration reds are excellent choices. They have enough body to pair with meat but the fruit-forward character makes them food-friendly, so they won’t overpower vegetables or grilled fish. Most importantly, they are best enjoyed slightly chilled, bringing freshness to a hot summer afternoon.
Orange wine
Some say orange wine is a white wine that tastes like red. It combines the vibrant acidity and refreshing character of white wines with the depth and structure of red. Orange wine is an all-rounder for food pairing, matching perfectly with well-seasoned, spicy foods, grilled asparagus, or sausages.
Pet nat
For some, bubbles and barbecue are the ultimate pairing. Champagne and other traditional method sparkling wines are good choices, but pet nat (pétillant naturel) is even better. Its refreshing acidity and bubbles enhance the summer vibe, and its yeasty flavours and slight residual sugar add body, making it suitable for a variety of foods and barbecue seasoning. Plus, pet nat is ideal for casual, fun moments with friends. It’s an approachable wine to enjoy without giving it too much thought.
Wine consultant Sylvia Ba is a vinicultural expert with the VinoVoss AI Sommelier wine search engine and recommendation system developed by BetterAI. The user-friendly online platform picks the perfect wine every time, for any occasion courtesy of a highly advanced artificial intelligence assist. With a master’s degree in wine business from Burgundy School of Business, as well as diverse background and experiences in Europe and Asia, she currently offers expertise in marketing, research, purchasing, and copywriting for clients in the wine industry all over the world. Sylvia’s experience includes working as a junior editor for a leading Chinese wine media outlet and as a fine wine salesperson for ASC Fine Wines, the largest fine wine importer in China. She also served as export manager for Vinum Hadrianum, an artisanal winery in Abruzzo, Italy. Read more at www.vinovoss.com.


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