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  • Christina Pickard

BBQ Balm


–1 lamb chop (slightly burned) –1 roasted pepper –2 sausages –3 spoonfuls pasta salad –generous heaping of red wine

Use for: To ease emotional wounds caused by disappointments like cancelled holidays and stranded partners. Directions: Apply liberally to wounds.

I was planning to write a bit about my adventures traipsing around wineries in Portugal this week, and the ViniPortugal tastings last week. However, my travelling buddy (aka my mom)’s flight and of course our holiday to the land of Port were both cancelled. On top of that my husband is stuck in the States for at least another week (but hey, there are worse countries to be stuck in). The only consolation for me is that we’ve had some cracking weather here in ‘Ol Blighty, which, especially for a gal with many Aussie pals, means one thing: Barbeques! To provide me with a distraction from my disappointment, my dear Aussie mates did the only thing Aussies know how to do when the sun comes out—they donned their thongs and singlets, popped their stubby holders over their cold beers, and fired up the grill. I of course provided the vino.

Back in 2005 when none of us could afford any really big, impressive BBQs...

The classic match for a big boy Aussie Barbie, is of course a big boy Aussie Shiraz. Well, I almost brought that. The first bottle we opened was a Falernia Syrah Reserva from the Elqui Valley (north of Santiago), Chile. It was a massive wine, high in alcohol, and full of dark fruits and black pepper spices. I must say, while I enjoyed it, I think Falernia’s Carmenere/Syrah blend is less in-your-face with more subtle, savoury notes.

After that was drunk (and at an alarming rate I might add), we cracked open a Callie Louw Rhone blend (Cinsault/Syrah/Mourvedre) from South Africa. Callie himself has been the winemaker for Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards and has helped on vintages from famous wineries like Cakebread in California. His approach to winemaking is eco-friendly and non-invasive. He ‘sits back and watches the grapes become wine.’ Though better known for his whites, this red gave our palates a bit of a rest from the big boy and had all the smooth, supple characteristics of a good Rhone, with some South African sunshine thrown in. And an affordable price, at £9.99 through Virgin wines.

A gorgeous sunset over the Tulbagh Mountains which we visited last year

It got me thinking about BBQ wines and how especially on those rare hot summer days a big full-bodied, tannic fruit bomb (like so many Australian Shiraz are) just isn’t satisfying despite the fact that it goes well with the BBQ. I’m much happier with a more medium-bodied, soft wine like a Rhone which still lives up to those big meaty, spicy flavours in the BBQ and is more palatable in the heat.

The next morning when the sun popped its head through my bedroom curtains to begin yet another blue sky day, my (only slightly) hung-over self felt a little lighter knowing that even though I wasn’t at a Portuguese winery, I also wasn’t sleeping on the floor of a Middle Eastern airport. Maybe all I needed was a good barbeque with friends to put things into perspective.

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