What to DRINK with That: BBQ Burgers & Grilled Octopus

clockwise from left: Flame Grilled Burgers, Robert Stelmachuk, Stephen Wilson, Octopus Salad, Marlisa Hollands



DRINK editor Treve Ring asks local wine experts how they would approach pairing dishes and flavours.

July’s challenge: Backyard BBQ – Hamburgers, Potato Salad, Coleslaw & Watermelon.



Plus the bonus question: Salad of Warmed Grilled Octopus, Tomato, Sweet Onion & Feta Cheese.



Our Experts:


Robert Stelmachuk (RS)
Sommelier, Chambar Restaurant

An accomplished sommelier boasting 25 years of industry experience, Robert Stelmachuk has contributed to and created wine programs at some of the country’s most noteworthy restaurants including Le Crocodile and Market by Jean Georges at the Shangri-La Hotel. Robert is a graduate of the International Sommelier Guild (ISG), the Wine and Spirit Education Trust of London (WSET), the Grand Prix du Sopexa, and was the Director of Wine Education for the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts in Vancouver.

Marlisa Hollands (MH)
Sommelier, Stage Wine Bar

Marlisa Hollands has been in the food and beverage industry for 15 years, endearing herself to many Victorians through her smart and tight beverage program at Paprika Bistro. She is now a sommelier at Stage Wine Bar, continuing to utilize her passion for introducing overlooked wines with excellent value to customers and friends.


Stephen Wilson (SW)
Owner & Sommelier, Mahle House

Stephen & his wife Tara moved to Cedar with their two young children in 2009 to take over the family restaurant, The Mahle House, from Tara’s uncle Delbert and her mother Maureen.  Stephen had previously worked in several restaurants in Victoria over the past 20 years including Camille’s, The Sooke Harbour House, Il Terrazzo & Cassis Bistro.  Stephen also operated a wine sales and consulting company for a few years focusing mostly on small Okanagan wineries.  He completed his Sommelier certification in 2001.




Backyard BBQ – Hamburgers, Potato Salad, Coleslaw & Watermelon



$$$ – Break the Bank

RS – Wines of the Southern Rhone Valley in France would be a sure thing. Here, the wines are a dominant blend of Syrah and Grenache. Syrah does wonders to elevate the grilled component and the generous, savory, fruit compote body of Grenache satisfies a wide range of food. The wines are not overly tannic or too aggressive. Look for a Gigondas, Vacqueyras or Chateauneuf du Pape. You can also find wines crafted in this style from Washington with great success.

SW – On a hot day you really want to think about how temperature affects your wine.  Break the bank with a bottle of Rosé Champagne.  It’s fun, glamourous and it goes with everything. After a little bubble, tuck into a big and juicy, full and fruity premium Zinfandel from California.

MH – Look for a modern blended wine from Spain that may include varieties like Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache or Merlot. This ripe style is coming from the Navarra, Castilla La Mancha and Ribera del Duero regions. It is perfect for its flexibility for all of the flavours, acidity and sweetness for everything on the picnic buffet table.





$ – Quench a Crowd

RS – Think pink! Roses are so versatile with food. I usually recommend a dry Rosé, but with this menu, its okay if the wine is slightly off-dry. You can get affordable versions from around the globe: BC, Spain, Portugal, France or California. The fresh, lively, red berry fruit aspect that most will prove will be a great partner to everything on the table. Look for one made from a varietal that is fruit-forward for a safe bet. Pinot Noir, Grenache, Merlot or Syrah all work.

SW – On a hot summer day, quench the crowd with a just off-dry Rosé (moderate alcohol at the most) from BC.  The Rosé is a versatile wine and a touch of sweetness combined with lower alcohol will be a big benefit on a hot day. On a cooler day or later in the evening look for a juicy and jammy lower-priced Zinfandel from California. Fatty burger meat and grill flavour really go well with juicy and fruity wines.

MH – My pick are the delicious fruity wines of Languedoc-Roussillon in Southern France. These value wines are typically blends from Syrah and Carignan coming from such areas as Minervois and Corbières. Not all beef needs big, huge wines. A blended wine works best here.


BONUS: Salad of Warmed Grilled Octopus, Tomato, Sweet Onion & Feta Cheese
Recipe link from New York Magazine: http://nymag.com/restaurants/articles/recipes/octopussalad.htm


RS – You need bright acidity to work well here. Varietals like Sauvignon Blanc from basically anywhere are a sure thing. Arneis from Italy, Vino Verde from Portugal or Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley do the trick. My pick is from the Coteaux du Languedoc in the South of France. Maurel Vedeau ‘Terre de Neptune’ Picpoul de Pinet 2010 – Picpoul is like an amped-up version of Muscadet. A fist full of white flowers, crunchy pear, ginger, fig, citrus marmalade and honeyed notes. Available at any of the various locations of Liberty Wine Merchants.

SW -I would search out a Nicolas Joly Coulée de Serrant.  Amazing texture, minerality and crisp acidity would be a superb foil for the octopus and grill flavours as well as the other savoury elements of the dish.

MH – With the variety of sweetness and acidity my best choice is a dry, French style Rosé. The general lightness of the body and soft fruitiness of the wine matches each component nicely. French style Rosé has unique savory notes that make it a fascinating wine.  Locally, Le Vieux Pin “Vaila” Rose 2010 from BC is exactly what fits the bill. You can also try different roses from France, a perfect experiment for this summer.

Written By:

Treve Ring is a wine writer, editor, judge, consultant and certified sommelier, and has been with EAT Magazine for over a decade.\r\n\r\nIn addition to her work with EAT, she is a Wine Critic and National Judge for ...

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