With the current restrictions on being able to visit restaurants in many countries, eating – and drinking – at home has become the new dining out. As we have been lucky with the weather in Ireland so far this summer the siren call of the barbecue has been heard throughout the land.
How should we choose the wines to drink with our charcoal cooked food? For me there are a few key criteria:
- Drinkability: this doesn’t mean a dichotomy between wine that is either palatable enough to be drunk or wine to be poured down the sink, it means a BBQ wine should be approachable, gluggable, and not austere.
- Robustness: barbecue food has lots of strong flavours and needs wines that can stand up to it and take it on. There’s little point drinking a delicate Tasmanian Pinot Noir with flame-grilled burgers or sticky ribs
- Affordability: barbecues are an informal affair – you’re often eating without utensils, possibly on paper plates, and quaffing multiple glasses, so reasonably priced wine makes the most sense.
Here are a couple of wines I tried recently that perfectly fit the bill – and as it happens they are both from Puglia in Italy.
Disclosure: Both bottles kindly provided as samples, opinions remain my own.
Old True Zin Barrel Aged Zinfandel Salento IGT 2018
The name and label design of this wine are more reminiscent of a beer than a wine, and using the better known term Zinfandel rather than its Puglian name Primitivo give it an American image. Is this misleading? Perhaps a little, but the most important aspect of any bottle of wine is the liquid, and its that which I am assessing.
The bright purple colour in the glass gives you an idea of what you’re in for. The nose showcases an intense collection of fruits – plum, black cherry, blackberry and blackcurrant among them – plus notes of coffee and chocolate – mocha anyone – and vanilla from the barrel ageing. The flavours on the palate are a continuation, so no surprises there, but even given the richness of the nose the full-on explosion of flavour might take you back. It’s the richness and sweetness together which make this such a mouthful.
On reflection, if this wine suggests that it is a Californian Zinfandel then that it is fair enough as it is exactly in that style!
- ABV: 13.5%
- RRP: €17.95
- Stockists: Mortons, Ranelagh; Listons Camden Street; Barnhill Stores, Dalkey; La Touche, Greystones; Gleeson’s, Booterstown; Molloys Liquor Stores; The Old Orchard Off Licence, Rathfarnham
Bacca Nera Negroamaro Primitivo Salento IGT 2018
The Bacca Nera is from the same place as the Old True Zin and is the same vintage, but differs in two main respects; firstly, it has (attractive) conventional packaging with an Italian name, and secondly that Puglia’s other main grape: Negroamaro. It’s a little less deep in colour than the Zin, but we’re not talking Pinot Noir here.
The nose is delightfully spicy at first, then revealing dark berry fruits. In fact “Bacca Nera” means “Black Berry” according to google translate, so the name is apt. On tasting this wine is a big mouthful – round and powerful with sweet and rich fruit – very more-ish. The fruit flavours are both red (strawberry, raspberry and red cherry) and black (blackberry and black cherry), tamed by a touch of bitterness (that would be the Amaro) which adds interest and partially offsets the sweetness.
- ABV: 13.5%
- RRP: €17.95
- Stockists: Mortons Ranelagh; Listons Camden Street; Barnhill Stores, Dalkey; La Touche, Greystones; Gleeson’s, Booterstown; Molloys Liquor Stores; The Old Orchard Off Licence, Rathfarnham
These wines both fit the bill perfectly. There’s little to choose between them in quality and just a slight difference in style. With my BBQ ribs I would narrowly choose the Bacca Nera! Now where are my coals…