The best-value red wines for a summer barbecue

I admit to being a seasonal drinker – I rarely open rosé in the winter, for example. At this time of year there’s only one occasion that will see me reaching for the biggest, heartiest reds; a red meat barbecue.

Last week’s heat wave gave us a chance to cook and eat outside for the first time this year, and to crack open solidly built, fully ripe, no-nonsense reds to go with chargrilled steak. This week’s weather has seen many more opportunities.

There are several styles of full-bodied red that particularly shine with a barbecued steak. Ask a roomful of wine lovers which they’d pick and many of them will yell ‘malbec!’ – Indeed, they’d be right. The ripe black cherry and blueberry of Argentina’s malbec in particular makes a superb match for a juicy steak. If you like the wood-spice and vanilla of an oak-aged malbec, that’s all the better with smoky, chargrilled meat.

Other options include New World shiraz (or syrah, to give this grape its French name; some international winemakers prefer to use it). The rich blackcurrant and spicy twists of Aussie shiraz go brilliantly with a peppered steak. Spain’s red Rioja is another star, but the table reds made in port country, the Douro Valley in northern Portugal, have the edge with grilled steak for my money (classic oaky Rioja’s better meat match is with lamb).

And finally, premium California cabernet sauvignon is a joy as a partner. I’d avoid the cheaper ones though, which can taste a little too sweet. Wait for a special occasion and celebrate with a premium West Coast cab and a really good steak, cooked outdoors on a hot evening. What a summer treat.

Malbec walk 2020

Mendoza, Argentina (13.5%, Sainsbury’s £5.50)

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