Apparently ‘Britain is to sizzle in summer highs of 33C’.
Yes, I know we’ve read it all before, but let’s focus on the word ‘sizzle’ as May 30 sees the start of National Barbecue Week.
It seems we British were slow to get the barbecue culture, but now it’s a multi-million pound business ranging from new kit to ever-increasingly complex recipes.
Generally, barbecue flavours acquire more smoky, robust flavours than other types of cooking, so bolder wines are the order of the day.
There is a school of thought that maybe something cool like rosés or even sauvignon blanc fit the bill. But for me, especially if it’s a meat-based barbecue, it’s red wine all the way.
The Co-operative’s Truly Irresistible range doesn’t hit the spot every time, especially given the name, but there are some real stars in the line-up and generally speaking they are excellent value.
Truly Irresistible Bio Valley Malbec 2014 (Co-operative £6.99) is unusually a Chilean malbec. It’s been aged in oak for 15 months and is delicious. There are lots of bright black fruits with a touch of violet. The palate is ripe and silky and maybe a little lighter than many Argentinian examples. Try this with simple beef or lamb dishes.
Staying with the same range, Truly Irresistible Pinotage 2015, Swartland (Co-operative £6.99) is fabulous barbecue wine.
I lived in Cape Town for a couple of years and barbecuing (or braai-ing as they call it) is a national sport.
However, I’ve never been overly keen on pinotage, but I must admit this one hits all the right spots.
Made by Duncan Savage, one of the Cape’s most respected winemakers, this doesn’t have some of the unpleasant flavours often found in this grape at this level.
There is black cherry fruit, a touch of liquorice on the nose and plenty of juicy fruit and ripe tannins on the palate. Try with some Cape Malay-flavoured lamb.
Moving up a gear and a couple of Aussie reds.
You may need to track down the first wine, but it’s worth the search.
Hancock & Hancock Shiraz Grenache 2014, McLaren Vale (RRP £14.05 but you may find it cheaper, Noel Young Wines, The Solent Cellar) is exactly what you should expect to find in a glass of McLaren Vale red,
It’s about 75 per cent shiraz and 25 per cent grenache.
The latter adds a lovely floral, cherry fruit to the spice, dark fruits and pepper of the shiraz.
It’s beautifully drinkable and would be great with big-flavoured red meats.
Penfolds Bin 8 Cabernet Shiraz 2013, South Australia (Waitrose £19.99 but on offer at £14.99 until May 31) is a wine from the brilliant Penfolds range I’d not tasted before, and oh boy, have I missed out.
It’s a wine based on Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz but unlike that wine this sees no new oak. It’s that classic Aussie red blend which has masses of dark fruit and spice but never loses its focus. Serve with a butterflied leg of lamb.