Food and wine: Reds are best for barbecue season

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Warmer, balmy days and evenings are hopefully just around the corner and the barbecue season will soon be back, writes Neil Courtier.

Summer calls for ‘easy-going’, fruity, accessible wines, that also offer good value.

Barbecued food needs wines with personality and substance to stand-up to some pretty punchy flavours – charred meats, sweet and sour/hot and spicy sauces and marinades.

Red wines are by far the most successful, either fruity, vibrant, youthful styles, or full-bodied, bold, full-flavoured bottles. Don’t ‘bust the bank’, keep the smart labels for your 
dinner parties later in the year.

While you’re waiting for the food to cook, take this opportunity to enjoy an aperitif, like the excellent Cava Lavit Brut 2010, £12.99 Morrison’s, lively and fresh, invigorating, citrusy flavoured, with a long, clean finish, or the 2012 Domaine du Pré Baron, Sauvignon de Touraine, £ 8.99 (buy two bottles £ 7.99) Majestic – grapefruit, gooseberries, with a mineral edge and tangy acidity.

Cooking prawns, with a touch of garlic and spice? If so, check-out Mas de Cadeline Côtes de Provence Rosé 2012, £ 8.99, Co-operative stores, a classic Provence Rosé, blending Grenache and Cinsault and resulting in a nose and palate of red cherries and raspberry.

For lighter meat dishes, red peppers and even fish, I would opt for a Beaujolais, Georges Duboeuf, flower label, Juliénas 2009, £ 11.24 (20 per cent when you buy two bottles = £ 8.99) Majestic – red and black fruits, a note of violet, juicy, with excellent structure and really smart length, or the 2010 Brown Brothers Tarrango, £7.99 Morrison’s – cherry notes and a juicy, forward style makes this a candidate to slightly chilled– delicious and very drinkable.

Looking for something with a bit more grip to tackle beef or lamb steaks? Try Château de Triniac 2011 Côtes du Roussillon Villages, £9.99 (buy two bottles = £ 7.99) Majestic – blackberry, spice, herbs, bags of character, from old vine Carignan, Syrah and Grenache.

Neil is a freelance wine educator and writer. He runs wine courses and tutored tastings for groups and individuals, in Bury and Cambridge. More details: 01359 270318/