Canadian Wine Pairings for BBQ Steak, Chicken, Seafood


On Monday’s CBC radio drive-home shows, we talked about great Canadian wines to pair with your summer barbecues. You can listen to one of those clips above.

Discover 10 Surprising Facts about Canadian Wines here. The wines we discussed here included:CanadaFlagWineBottle small slim

Richmond, Eastern Ontario, Canada

Niagara Escarpment, Canada

Okanagan Valley, BC VQA, Canada

Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia, Canada

salmongrilledbeansPosted with permission of CBC.

Giacomo: Well, according to national stereotype here, Canada is a nation of beer drinkers. But from coast to coast, this country has a thriving wine industry as well and that includes a number of options to go with whenever you plan on hitting the grill, maybe tomorrow.

Natalie MacLean is the editor of the wine review website NatalieMacLean.com and she’s with me in studio, setting up some glasses, pulling out some bottles as well, and a few recommendations to go with your Canada Day barbecue. Hello, Natalie.

Natalie: Hi, Giacomo.

Giacomo: First, I want to know what you brought with you. But let’s get to that in just a second. What is it that makes a wine special or better suited for the barbecue?

Natalie: Well, when I think barbecue, I think the charry, smoky flavours. So you’ve got robust flavours on your plate. And I often think about a big honking slab of meat sizzling on the grill. And so, you want to match the flavours and weight of what’s on your plate with what’s in your glass. So, we want, usually, for those meat dishes, a nice big juicy red wine.

Giacomo: And what about the lighter dishes? Things like maybe fish or chicken?

Natalie: Exactly. So even fish and chicken and grilled veggies and Portobello mushrooms and all the fancy things we do these days, still are on the more robust end of the flavour spectrum for those dishes.

Giacomo: Because it’s being grilled, it’s got to be able to keep up.

Natalie: Exactly. So that said though, I would probably lighten up a little bit on the wines. So maybe a dry Rosé or a vibrant Sauvignon Blanc, that sort of thing.

Giacomo: OK. So what have you brought with you?

Natalie: Well now, I’ve brought – first of all I brought one wine that is made locally here. We have about five wineries in the Ottawa region. This one is from Jabulani. It’s Frontenac Gris. It’s a light, floral, white wine. It would be great with grilled seafood or veggies, that sort of thing.

Giacomo: And when you say local, is this something they’re growing their own grapes, mixing them accordingly? Are they 100% local?

Natalie: They’re 100% local. They’re 100% local Ontario grown grapes. So they’re hybrids, they’ve got to be able to survive our climate here. But I was surprised, I tried this wine yesterday and it was delightful. It’s a like a floral Riesling if I were to equate with anything.

Giacomo: Because Rieslings are generally a little sweeter, on the sweeter side?

Natalie: They can be. They’re like a spectrum of sweetness from bone dry, to of course, there’s dessert wines, our rice wine is often based on Riesling. But, yeah.

Giacomo: OK. And another one?

Natalie: Sure. We’ve got a Dry Rosé from Niagara. I brought this Giacomo, because real men do drink pink.

Giacomo: OK.

Natalie: Here’s another misunderstood, greatly misunderstood wine. Rosé still has that sweet, syrupy, pink reputation from the ‘70s. This one is dry and it’s made by Henry of Pelham, run by three brothers, they’re on the label.

This one is called Sibling Rivalry. It’s a lot of fun and it’s only 14 bucks.

Giacomo: OK.

Natalie: So that would go so swimmingly well with seared tuna or plank salmon, grilled chicken would be great.

Giacomo: So we’ve been working our way up as far as the boldness of the wine.

Natalie: Exactly, yes.

Giacomo: What’s your last one here?

Natalie: Well, this is third to last. This one is from BC.

Giacomo: Oh.

Natalie: That’s OK. Extra is always good, right? This one is from BC. It’s Mission Hill. It’s again, also available locally. And it’s a Cabernet-Merlot. This is your big honking red for your slab of meat to your hamburger, whatever you’ve got on the grill.

But I also have Nova 7 from Nova Scotia, which is available nationally now. I hear you’re going to have Natalie MacMaster on later.

Giacomo:  Yes.

Natalie: She and I used to be highland dancers together. She won’t remember me. I’m older than she is.

But I’m celebrating both our heritage here with Nova 7. It’s a – it’s just a lightly effervescent wine, slightly sweet. It will great with grilled peaches for dessert.

Giacomo: OK. I’d like to try the Rosé.

Natalie: All right. Bring it.

Giacomo: Because if you say real men have Rosé’s and I’ve had this thing with Rosé’s. I’m like, make up your mind, either you’re a white wine or a red.

Natalie: Right.

Giacomo: But I’m going to try this one. I’ll be open-minded. And I’ll tell you what I think. But tell me about it first, more I like the idea of a wine from Nova Scotia as well.

Natalie: Sure.

Giacomo: This must be a good sign for Canadian wines.

Natalie: It is. And it’s the first one from Nova Scotia to get national distribution. It’s difficult to actually get in to all the provincial liquor stores. You have to have the volume and the quality there.

So you’ve just had a sip of that Rosé though I’m looking for a reaction shot here across.

Giacomo: Well, you know, it takes me back to childhood right away because …

Natalie: Is it?

Giacomo: … they would – we would have red wine mixed with something else as child at the table.

Natalie: Ah, right, right.

Giacomo: To water down and sweeten it a little bit.

Natalie: There’s a tasting note.

Giacomo: But that’s not to say a bad thing. No, it’s very nice.

Natalie: Yeah. It’s very sort of cherry berry. We make good Rosé’s across Canada. But also you can find them from France, that sort of thing. And what I love about Rosé in the summer is that we serve it slightly chilled, so it’s refreshing. And it’s kind of got the best of both worlds.

So, it’s got this sort of fresh field berry flavor, but not the heavy oak, not the heavy alcohol that you don’t want if you’re melting in the sun.

Giacomo:  Well, that’s – yes.

Natalie: Yes.

Giacomo: When it’s too hot a red wine just doesn’t feel right, although some people chill them as well.

Natalie:  Exactly.

Giacomo: And you mentioned chilling the Rosé, so is that fridge temperature, cool, colder, or roughly light?

Natalie: This particular one was as long as I could keep it in the fridge before I had to come here. But I would serve my whites and my sparkling the chilliest at about 12 to 13 degrees, say, Celsius. This one, a little warmer.

But even the reds, the old advice is room temperature, that’s a chilly medieval castle without central air.

Giacomo: Right.

Natalie: So, 18, 19 degrees, again, especially on a hot day, you want that sort of refreshment. Otherwise it’s going to taste hot alcohol-like, that sort of thing.

Giacomo: We only have time for one more.

Natalie: Oh, OK.

Giacomo: A quick one, which one are you opening up? The bold red here?

Natalie: I’m opening up the bold red from BC. This is Mission Hill Cabernet-Merlot.

Giacomo: OK.

Natalie: And I think this one will muscle in there beside the grill.

Giacomo: Now we’re talking. Now, we’re into more Giacomo land here.

Natalie: You look happier.

Giacomo: I like something a little bit more intense. But I can see the advantage of a Rosé or, like, white when you want to keep cool.

Natalie: Exactly. And you don’t want those tannins clashing with the seafood. But with this, you’ve got tannins but that will glom onto the meat proteins and dance together.

This one could be open for a little while to smooth out a bit. But it’s reasonably priced. It’s $17. I really like it.

Giacomo: I like it too.

Natalie: Good.

Giacomo: That’s very nice. So, good news for the Canadian wine industry.

Natalie: Absolutely.

Giacomo: Everything you’ve had here is all from Canada.

Natalie: It’s all from Canada, all reasonably priced. And I just think the quality, the diversity of styles, the number of regions coming on, not just here in Ottawa, but Picton is drivable.

We’ve got so much choice that going local is no longer patriotic duty. It’s a good taste pleasure.

Giacomo: And I like the range that you brought in because then that gives us an idea of, just have one of each available depending on what you’re going to slap on the barbecue.

Natalie: Exactly. Why not?

Giacomo: All right. Limited time left for people to hit LCBO though for Canada Day.

Natalie: Yes, that’s right. Go quickly.

Giacomo: Thank you so much for coming in, Natalie.

Natalie: All right. Cheers, Giacomo.

Giacomo: Cheers! Natalie MacLean is the editor of the wine review website NatalieMacLean.com.

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