A Guide to Smoking and Drinking

Barbecue is about big flavour: meat bombarded with sugar, salt, pepper, spice, vinegar, and plenty of smoke. We’re not talking subtlety here. This is no place for a fancy-pants dipsy-doodler of a wine. These gutsy reds (and a fierce white) are all winners from Vanmag’s Annual International Wine Awards, and none will break the bank. Serve them a bit chilled (10 minutes in the fridge) and you’ll enjoy them even more.


Cono Sur Merlot

Chile $10.99 +457176

Plenty of juicy, plummy fruit with the herbal edge that makes Chilean Merlot interesting, and there’s some earthiness, too. Stick it in an ice bucket on the patio and while you’re at it, throw in a bottle of Cono Sur Viognier (also $10.99), a summer party-starter if ever there was one. Both represent killer value.

Tormaresca Paiara Rosso

Italy $11.99 (private wine stores)

This is barbecue red par excellence: smoky, rustic, and packed with fruit. Also a stunning bargain, it’s produced by Tuscany’s venerable Antinori family in Italy’s next-to-be-discovered deep-south region of Puglia.

Thorn-Clarke Terra Barossa Shiraz

Australia $19.99 +98327

There’s a reason why Aussie and barbie are synonymous. This is top-tier, old-school Aussie Shiraz, briary and gamey and the perfect partner for food that has been exposed to several hours of smoke and slow cooking.

Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Sun Rock Shiraz

B.C. $33.99 (private wine stores)

This Okanagan show stopper is the perfect wine to impress out-of-town guests. Sun Rock is a special South Okanagan vineyard, producing fewer than 400 cases per year of textbook peppery, jammy Shiraz. If you see it, grab it.

Loosen Dr. L Riesling

Germany $18.96 +599274

Good news for white wine lovers: barbecue gurus George Siu and Park Heffelfinger of Memphis Blues love to recommend pairing Riesling with their brisket, pulled pork, and chicken. Any dry version (German, Alsatian, Aussie, or B.C.) will work, but an excellent place to start is Loosen Dr. L Riesling. It’s crisp and green-apple fresh, but the key to the pairing is the mineral note that hooks into the smokiness of barbecue. Yum.