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7:00am Saturday 2nd June 2012 in NewsXtra
Fancy a drink? Our drinks columnist Sam Wylie-Harris looks at some tasty BBQ reds.
Fair weather reds.
With June winking at us from around the corner, braving the great outdoors and firing up the barbie for National BBQ Week (May 28 to June 3) is a terrific excuse to crack open some juicy red wines.
A natural bedfellow with grilled and barbecued meats, smoky, peppery reds with rich berry flavours compliment the sizzling delights of burgers, rack of ribs, lamb skewers and most of our charcoal favourites.
Southern French reds from the sunny Cotes du Rhone such as Asda Cotes du Rhone 2011, France (£3.67, Asda) punch above their weight and can turn a grey sky blue with sun-baked red fruits, hints of spice and soft tannins to compliment tender meats and balance hot, spicy sauces.
Australia's famous for its barbecue lifestyle, and while we head to the garden to scrape down our grills ahead of the sunny forecast, it's comforting to know they're just coming into the first days of winter.
For a bonza red from the country's most famous wine region, try Waitrose Reserve Shiraz, St Hallett 2009, Barossa Valley, South Australia (£7.11, Waitrose) for a lip-smacking mouthful to pair with charcoal grilled steaks. Rich and luscious with blackberry aromas, spiced chocolate and subtle oak on the velvety smooth, lengthy finish.
Tarrango is a native grape to Oz, and Brown Brothers Tarrango 2010, Victoria, Australia (£7.99, Sainsbury's) is a ruby red designed to be served chilled. Light and fruity, it's not dissimilar to Beaujolais and the wine's refreshing qualities, balanced by good acidity suit flame-grilled chicken drumsticks, grilled tuna or seafood skewers. Ideal for hot, balmy nights.
Big and spicy, shiraz/syrah stands up to all those powerful, peppery BBQ flavours and Chilean producer Casa Silva Dona Dominga has a real nugget that would also suit a mid-week Indian takeaway. Try Dona Dominga Syrah (shiraz) 2010, Chile (£7.11, Waitrose) with its forest floor of dense black fruits. This intense red has lasting appeal with a lick of soft caramel, an element of leather with hints of nutmeg spice and an ultra smooth finish.
Chilean giant Casillero del Diablo rarely produces a dud wine and Casillero del Diablo Carmenere 2010, Chile (£7.99, Sainsbury's) is made from the country's signature grape, carmenere, with a splash of cabernet sauvignon for good measure. A food-friendly guzzler with warm blackberry and raspberry fruits, a hint of vanilla and mocha with a whiff of oak, it's ideal with burgers and sausages.
Spanish menus are famous for their grilled lamb and suckling pig, and the charcoal black cork on Evohe Garnacha Vinas Viejas 2010, Spain (£9.99, www.virginwines.com) is the first sign this red's suited to succulent BBQ'd meats. A seductive inky black made from grenache with no use of oak, it's heady and sun-drenched with luscious blackberries, plums and cherries, a hint of aniseed and sweet, textured tannins on the expansive finish.
For penthouse-style barbecues and kingly cook-outs, a top drop from Penfolds, Australia's most famous winery, is a natural choice. Its winemaker, Peter Gago, was awarded Winemaker's Winemaker of the Year 2012 and for something really awesome, try Penfolds Koonunga Hill Seventy Six Shiraz Cabernet 2010, Australia (£11.50, www.slurp.co.uk). An absolute cracker of a wine with a smoky nose to match sizzling sausages, it's smooth on the first mouthful and unfolds into an explosive joy with a flourish of dense, black fruits, leather, tobacco and spice.
Best buy A collector's piece... Reputed to be the Prince of Wales's favourite dram and bearing his Royal Warrant, Islay single malt whisky Laphroaig has released a Diamond Jubilee commemorative edition (£77.99, www.whiskyshop.com). Only 3,000 numbered bottles and cartons of the double gold medal winning 18 Year Old Laphroaig have been released and its trademark smoky, peaty taste can be snapped up by whisky noses from the beginning of June.
Liquid news Lots of bang for your bucks... The Co-op has a corker of a champagne offer with top ranking names such as Bollinger NV Champagne, reduced from £42.99 to £32.99, Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial NV from £32.99 to £25.99, and Piper Heidsieck Brut Champagne from £29.99 to £19.99 - from now until June 12. For more information, visit www.co-operative.coop