Vin Connections BBQ Wines (June 2005)


BBQ Bargains: Top Wines Under $15 for Summer Barbecue…

Summer BBQ Special: Better than Great Wines… Great Wines at a Great Price!
With barbecue-perfect wines, as with so many things in life, the choices are as myriad as the intensely personal ways we enjoy them. In fact, choosing great wine for the barbecue is no different than choosing wine for any food type, cooking style or occasion. After all, when it comes to wine choices there’s no such thing as a “rule” for pairing food and wine. It’s all about what tastes good to you. And in this issue, it’s also about getting a great bargain while you’re at it…

This Month’s Reader Question:
(BBQ Time) “What can we serve that’s both great and cheap?”

June Wine Picks:
12 highly-rated BBQ greats for $15 a bottle and better.
A Bargain Bunch: $9 and Better a Bottle…
Big, flavorful reds perfect for grilling #1: Syrah and Shiraz!
Big, flavorful reds perfect for grilling #2: Zinfandel
Wondrous Whites

This Month’s Quote:
Do you drink wine for the joy of the wine, or to impress? Do both… on a budget…


It’s that time of year… BBQ’s abound. What to drink? And what to spend?

“It’s that time of year. July 4th is coming up, and we’re grilling burgers, dogs and whatever else folks bring over to our annual party. Here’s the deal: we supply the wine. We’re not snobs, but love a really good glass of wine. And so do most of our friends. What can we serve that’s both great and cheap?”

— Kylie Loriston, Abiline, Kansas

First, I’d hesitate to use the word “cheap.” Are there great wines that don’t cost a ton? You bet. But to us, cheap sounds kind of like 2-buck chuck, fortified screw-top gulpers and box wines, whereas “great value” implies an excellent wine at a very reasonable price. When we look for great value in a wine, we look for the same qualities we look for in any wine. In short, there’s no reason to settle for something that’s just okay. So don’t….

And we’re going to prove that by picking out twelve excellent wines for your party, without going over $15 for a single bottle. Since we’ve got the price issue out of the way, what’s the right wine for a BBQ free-for-all? The thing about picking “just the right wines” for a barbecue is the incredible variety of food that gets barbecued… from halibut, shrimp and oysters to lamb, burgers and chicken. You name it, if it’s edible, someone, somewhere, has grilled it.

That said, there are some basics that might help as you choose the perfect wines for your grill-side gatherings:

  • Full-bodied, robust wines go well with heavier, more robust foods
  • Light bodied, crisp wines go better with lighter dishes
  • Match your wine choice with dominant flavor of your meal
  • If you’re cooking regional fare, match it with wines from the same region
  • Enjoy the wines you love with the food you love; the only “wrong” wine is one you don’t enjoy

The “rules of thumb” for choosing the right wine for a BBQ aren’t exactly hard and fast. After all, enjoying wine is all about what you – and your friends – like. So with your barbecue in mind, our I’ve picked a few highly-rated, great value varietals that you’ll be sure to enjoy as you soak up the sun before the fireworks start, or sitting around a fire in that post-party glow.

[Do you have a wine-related question you’d like to ask? If so, contact us and you may see it answered in an upcoming issue!]


12 highly-rated BBQ greats for $15 a bottle and better

A Bargain Bunch: $9 and Better a Bottle…

Cabernet Sauvignon  Fortant  2003  Vin de Pays d’Oc
France  Languedoc
IE: B+$6, Grade B+
Sauvignon/Fumé Blanc  Barnard Griffin  2003  Fume Blanc,
Columbia Valley
IE: B+$8, Grade B+
Gewürztraminer  Columbia Winery  2003  Columbia Valley
IE: A-$9, Grade A-

Big, flavorful reds perfect for grilling #1: Syrah and Shiraz!

Syrah/Shiraz  Cline  2002  Sonoma County
IE: B+$11, Grade B+
Shiraz  The Evans Wine Company  2003 
Hilltop Nine Stones, Camberra
IE: A-$12, Grade A-
Syrah/Shiraz  Hess Select  2002  Napa Valley
IE: A-$13, Grade A-

Big, flavorful reds perfect for grilling #2: Zinfandel

Zinfandel  Rosenblum  2002  Oakley Vineyards, San Francisco Bay
IE: B+$14, Grade B+
Zinfandel  Joel Gott  2003
IE: B+$15, Grade B+
Zinfandel  Klinker Brick  2001  Old Vines
IE: A-$15, Grade A-

Wondrous Whites

Sauvignon Blanc  Angove’s  2004  Long Row
Australia  South
IE: B+$10, Grade B+
Chardonnay  J & F Lurton  2004  Valle de Colchagua
Hacienda Araucano, Colchagua Valley
IE: B+$10, Grade B+
Sauvignon Blanc  Matetic Vineyards  2002  EQ, San Antonio
IE: A$14, Grade A
Viognier  McManis  2003
IE: B+$10, Grade B+

Wine Quote

Do you drink wine for the joy of the wine, or to impress? Do both… on a budget…

“So where can a man find literature nowadays to fill the need for fantasy? In the wine columns, that’s where. Every other newspaper now seems to have one, and their purpose can only be to fire the reader’s imagination, since the wines they write about are usually priced for people so rich they feel insecure without a second Maserati in the garage.

— Russell Baker, NY Times, May 12, 1990.

“Why spend tons of money on wine, when there are thousands of bottles under $30 that match up to (and often beat) the quality of bottles costing five times that price? Simply put, you can drink great wine without coming close to breaking the bank (unless you’re insecure without that second Maserati…)

Michael Hinshaw, The Wine PocketList


Understanding our System

Grade: [A-]
Our grades represent a composite score developed using our proprietary system to blend wine quality and scoring information.

Vintage: 1999
This describes both the year of the actual grape harvest as well as the year the wine was made.

Price: $12
The prices quoted in the WPL are the “suggested retail prices” quoted by the wineries and the distributors. Though these are close to what you’d pay at the winery, you’ll often find discounts of 20% and more off these prices at retail.

Individual Evaluations: IE: A, A-, B+
This represents the number of individual reviews and ratings on which the composite grade is based, primarily representing individual reviews in top wine periodicals converted to our scale, and ratings by our tasting panel.

Wine PocketList Exclusive Categories: WPL: BBC, W, S, B
These are four exclusive WPL categories, and many wines rated by the PocketList will fall into one of these special designations.

[W] Widely Available:
These wines typically have bottling of 20,000 cases or more, making them widely available in most regions of the U.S.

[BBC] Top Buy-by-the-Case:
Based on multiple, outstanding reviews and a solid history, these are wines you can purchase by the case to grow your cellar with confidence today, and into the future!

[B] Bargain Wines:
Top-rated wines for $10 or less. Most of these can go head to head with a typical $30 bottle sporting a fancy label . . . and beat it hands down.

[S] Splurge Wines:
For most of us, spending more than $20 on a bottle of wine isn’t something we do lightly. These are wines that, while more expensive, are well worth the price.

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