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.


Canadian Wine Pairings for BBQ Steak, Chicken, Seafood


Giacomo: Well according to national stereotypes, we hear that 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 whenever you plan on hitting the grill. Natalie MacLean is the editor of the wine review website and she’s with me in the studio, setting up some glasses, pulling out some bottles and she has a few recommendations to go with your Canada Day barbeque. 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 barbeque?

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

Giacomo: What about the lighter dishes … things like fish and chicken?

Natalie: Exactly! Even fish and chicken, grilled veggies and portabella mushrooms and all the fancy things we grill these days are on the more robust end of the flavour spectrum.

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, maybe a dry Rosé or a vibrant Sauvignon Blanc.

Giacomo: Okay! So what have you brought with you?

Natalie: First of all, I brought one wine that is made locally. We have five wineries in the Ottawa region. This one is from Jabulani Winery. It’s a Frontenac Gris. It’s a light floral white wine that would be great with grilled seafood or veggies.

Giacomo: And when you say local, are they growing their own grapes and mixing them … are they 100% local?

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

Giacomo: Because Rieslings are generally on the sweeter side?

Natalie: They can be. There is a spectrum of sweetness from bone dry to dessert wines. Our Ice wines are often based on Riesling.

Giacomo: Okay, and another one?

Natalie: Sure! We have a dry Rosé from Niagara. I brought this, Giacomo, because real men do drink pink.

Giacomo: Alright!

Natalie: Here’s another greatly misunderstood wine. Rosé still has that sweet syrupy pink reputation from the ‘70’s. This one is dry and it’s made by Henry of Pelham Winery, run by three brothers and they’re on the label. This one is called Sibling Rivalry. It’s a lot of fun and it’s only $14.

Giacomo: Okay.

Natalie: It would go swimmingly well with seared tuna or planked salmon and with grilled chicken, it would be great.

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

Natalie: Exactly!

Giacomo: What’s your last wine here?

Natalie: This one is third to last.

Giacomo: Oh!

Natalie:  This one is from Mission Hill Winery, in BC. Again, it’s available locally, and it’s a Cabernet Merlot. This is your big honking red for the slab of meat or hamburger or whatever you have on the grill. I also have a Nova 7 from Nova Scotia, which is available nationally now. I hear you’re going to have Natalie McMaster 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 our heritage with this Nova 7. It’s a lightly effervescent wine, slightly sweet and would be great with grilled peaches for dessert.

Giacomo: Okay! I’d like to try the Rosé.

Natalie: Alright! Bring it!

Giacomo: You say we men drink Rosé. I’ve had this thing with Rosé. I’m like, make up your mind either you have a white wine or 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. Tell me about if first. More about 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! 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. You just had a sip of that Rosé. I’m looking for a reaction, here.

Giacomo: Well you know, it takes me back to childhood right away because I would have red wine mixed with something else, as a child at the table.

Natalie: Ah! Right, right!

Giacomo: … to water it down and sweeten it a little bit.

Natalie: There’s a tasting note.

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

Natalie: Yes! It’s very cherry berry. We make good Rosé across Canada. You can also find them from France. What I love about Rosé in the summer is that we serve it slightly chilled so it’s refreshing. It has the best of both worlds. It has this sort of fresh field berry flavour but not the heavy oak and not the heavy alcohol that you don’t want if you’re melting in the sun.

Giacomo: Well, yes! When it’s too hot, red wine just doesn’t feel right. Although, some people chill them as well.

Natalie: Exactly!

Giacomo: You mentioned chilling the Rosé, so what is that fridge temperature? Cool or colder?

Natalie: I chilled this particular one, as long as I could keep it in the fridge, before I had to come here. I would serve my whites and the sparkling wines the chilliest at about 12 – 13 degrees Celsius. This one, I would serve a little warmer. With the reds, the old advice was at room temperature. That room was a chilly medieval castle without central air. So, 18 – 19 degrees, especially on a hot day, if you want that sort of refreshment. Otherwise it’s going to taste hot and alcoholic.

Giacomo: We only have time for one more. Which one are you opening up, the bold red?

Natalie: I’m opening up the bold red from BC; this is Mission Hill Cabernet Merlot. And I think this one will mussel in there.

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

Natalie: You look happier!

Giacomo: Yes! I like something a little more intense but I can see the advantage of a Rosé when you want to keep cool.

Natalie: Exactly! And you don’t want those tannins clashing with the seafood. With this you have tannins that will glom onto the meat protein and dance together. This one could be open for a little while to smooth out a bit. It’s reasonably priced at $17. I really like it.

Giacomo: I like it, too! It’s very nice.

Natalie: Good!

Giacomo: So, good news for the Canadian wine industry. Everything you have here is from Canada.

Natalie: It’s all from Canada and all reasonably priced. I just think the quality, the diversity of styles, the number of regions coming on board, not just Ottawa and Picton, gives us so much choice that going local is not just a patriotic duty. It is good taste and pleasure.

Giacomo: And I like the range you brought in because it gives an idea of one of each category, that is available, depending on what you’re going to slap on the barbeque.

Natalie: Exactly!

Giacomo: Alright! There’s limited time left for people to hit the LCBO, though.

Natalie:  That’s right! Go quickly!

Giacomo: Thank you so much for coming in Natalie.

Natalie: Cheers Giacomo!

Giacomo: Natalie Maclean is the editor of the wine review website,



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