Surprising Canadian Wine Pairings for BBQ: Radio Chat Tips

This chat with CBC radio in Ontario was one of 26 interviews with the morning and drive-home shows on Friday about terrific (and surprising) pairings for Canadian wines with barbecued food.

We also kicked off The Great Canadian Wine Match: BBQ Edition. chicken BBQGot a wine to nominate? Or maybe you’d like to see which wines others have nominated and vote for them.

Check out the race so far here with lots of great ideas for July 1 barbecue wines.

Read more about the wine competition here as well as prizes for those who nominate wines, including a $3,000 Weber Summit Gas Grill.


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seafood BBQ

Posted with permission of CBC.

Bob: Well we’ve all heard those recommendations, you know, for the best wine to go with your chicken or meat or fish. But you know, we Canadians, we like to follow our own rules. Sometimes we just throw out the suggestions and we go with what tastes best. And when it comes to the BBQ, well put down that bottle of beer, let’s start talking about which wine works best with your favorite barbequed entrée.

And if you have a winning combination, you could win a brand new barbeque and some other prizes. Wine expert Natalie Maclean is behind the search for Canada’s ultimate barbeque wine. She joins me now. Hello Natalie.

Natalie: Hi Bob.

Bob: How are you?

Natalie: I’m great. Things are sizzling here.

Bob: Yeah, have you got a glass of wine?

Natalie: Of course.

Bob: Well tell me, what is this contest all about?

Natalie: Well you know, unlike traditional wine competitions that are judged by experts in some dark room, this one is allowing wine lovers themselves to nominate and vote for their favorite Canadian wines. Via social media, real time, online voting from coast to coast, wine lovers are gathering together virtually to say “Hey, I love this Canadian wine with….” whatever, grilled steak, chicken, etc.

Bob: Oh, are you just talking about Canadian wines then?

Natalie: Yes.

Bob: Just limiting it to Canadian wines? Then that is pretty interesting. So are you looking for unique pairings of wine and barbequed food?

Natalie: I am, and we are. So Southwestern Ontario has amazing wines. You think Pelee Island and Colio, and so on. We’ve got six regional categories including Southwestern Ontario on its own.

And across the country, we’re going to have six food categories. Think of the regular stuff that you would put onto the grill, chicken, pork, beef, vegetables, and even dessert, grilled peaches are great. And let’s pair them up with those wines that come from our own back yard.

Bob: Yeah, Natalie how popular is wine with barbeque food as opposed to the beer?

Natalie: Well I run in a very specialized world, but you know what wine consumption is up across Canada every year or whenever they publish their statistics. Statistics Canada keeps saying wine consumption is up dramatically. And I think what we are doing is realizing that wine is for everyday, it’s for backyards, it’s for grilling. It’s not just fancy meals and special occasions. Backyard barbeques are ideal for wine.

Bob: Are there pairings that you’ve tasted that work well already?

Natalie: Absolutely. I’m very thorough with my research. So if you look at, like, planked salmon. Salmon from anywhere in Canada. It’s absolutely gorgeous with the Pinot Noir we make, especially here in Ontario. It’s just a to-die-for match.

Bob: And you’re saying there’s a distinct difference from a Pinot Noir from another country?

Natalie: Absolutely. Climate, vintage, etc. We don’t need to get hung up on too much technical detail here, but we excel in really food friendly wine. So our Pinot Noirs, our Rieslings, even our ice wines for those grilled peaches. But we also produce some more full bodied wines in Southwestern Ontario, of course the heat units are more than anywhere else in Ontario, so we have some big honkin reds too.

Bob: Big honkin reds. I like that.

Natalie: It’s a technical term.

Bob: I can imagine.

Natalie: You can use it.

Bob: I will. But of course you want to hear from people who’ve found great pairings of their own.

Natalie: Exactly. And that is why we are putting the glass and the tongs in the hands of the people. So you know I just think it gets people more excited when they can put forward the wines that they love. ‘Hey, look, this is a wine that I’ve had.’ And they share it on social media and they vote for it. Everyone comes out a winner I think because we all discover new pairings of wonderful Canadian wines, a list to get ready for those July 1st celebrations. And I think it’s a lot of fun.

Bob: You just mentioned the July 1st, the Canada day weekend coming up in just over a month from now, and that’s sort of what we are aiming for. So how does the contest work Natalie?

Natalie: So if you go to, there will be a link there. And it’s really super simple. You just go to the section on the site, click on the logo, and name your favorite wine. It automatically fills it out; it guesses for you what you are trying to put in there. So it’s really easy, any wine, doesn’t matter what price point, as long as it’s from Canada. And you nominate, and vote for it.

Let’s say you really don’t have an idea of what to nominate. Go anyway, and look at what other Canadians are nominating for wines, and vote for them, or at least get a shopping list of wines to try for Canada day.

Bob: Very good. And then how do you determine a winner?

Natalie: Well, we’re going to do, the first round is all voting online, so we will have six regional winners in each category including Southwestern Ontario, and those six winners will move to the finalist stage. And then those wines will be tasted in person by everyday wine drinkers and we will declare the winners from there. Including the prizes, the prizes are actually for the nominators, not the wineries.

Bob: Yes, I know which is great. I did mention a barbeque, but there are some other prizes as well.

Natalie: Absolutely, so there is a three thousand dollar Weber grill, which is really awesome, because we want to recognize not just the Canadian wines, but Canadian wine lovers themselves, the people who champion these wines. Because, you know we’ve had enough of that, come on, we’ve moved on from the 70’s and 80’s, Canadian wines are good, and there are people out there talking about them.

So let’s celebrate the people and the wines. So there is a big honkin grill, guess I should get a new adjective, and then there are 30 other prizes, cook books, cooking utensils, that sort of thing, just to add some more spice and more heat to the competition.

Bob: Yes, but of course the big winners are everyone, because they get to try out all of those pairings that people have suggested.

Natalie: Exactly, everyone is a winner.

Bob: Yeah, alright, well, I’m going to give out that address again, Natalie, and best of luck with that, and we’ll talk again, perhaps near Canada Day.

Natalie: We should Bob, cheers.

Bob: That is wine expert Natalie MacLean. She is behind the search for Canada’s ultimate barbeque wine, again, go to and then once you get there look for the link for Barbeque Sharing.



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